Claiming the Crone and Compassion

Claiming the Crone and Compassion

collage I created early January 2014 for the coming year.

collage I created early January 2014 for the coming year.

Compassion allows you to communicate and connect with others more fully around common vulnerabilities.  As you bring compassion to yourself, you are better able to offer it to others.  compassion counteract the isolation that can result from our self-defeating internal head talk.  It enables us to see that our suffering is a shared experience without our human family, and that we are interconnected and interdependent.  We can then engage each other with compassion and kindness.  Kathleen Erickson-Freeman

Wylde Woman by Tammy Vitale

Wylde Woman by Tammy Vitale

In other words, when you talk to yourself be nice.

And when you’re studying compassion – what it is, how it works – make sure you practice on yourself first and foremost.  You cannot give to someone else what you don’t understand or haven’t experienced yourself.

It is time to no longer let others – the media, your community, your work place, your family – define you.  It is time to claim your Crone power – that feminine wisdom that has been  disparaged, belittled, attacked, and maligned by a world that is afraid of a woman centered in her own power with – a power that nurtures community, honors the earth, and sees clearly what needs to die so that something new can be reborn.  For what is the power of the Crone if not the life/death/life dancing o f Kali-Ma and the strength and warrior power of the Morrigan to stand up and work for what and whom we love.  The Crone is she who helps you answer Mary Oliver’s question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” with “I am dreaming bigger and growing every day.  And I am not letting fear stop me.”

The Crone meets you on your path in times of transformation to hold your hand and walk with you (no matter your age, but especially in the

Guardian Angel by Tammy Vitale

Guardian Angel by Tammy Vitale

last third of your life) when the lizard brain flicks its tongue and hisses “You are too old to follow your heart, there’s not enough time, you don’t have the technical skills, there are so many others doing the same thing – only better – you have tried and failed – just go ahead and quit.  No one will think less of you”.  She is the one who whispers:  “Never mind the lizard – he is afraid and can only see old patterns and beliefs.  He is the gardian at the gate but you are the magic key – he cannot stop you.  Do not give up now.  You are almost there.”

The Crone is Compassion manifested.  She knows that imperfection walks hand in hand with trying something new.  And She is you.  She is just waiting for you to notice that she has been with you and in you from the very first time you stepped out on an adventure, trembling and unsure, but on the path anyways.  She is the voice that speaks through you, even if it is shaking, when you say “This far, no further” to anyone or thing who would stand in the way fo your becoming more fully you.

Claim her.

Exercise:  one way to consider integrating your Crone is to do a vision board of how you see yourself in Crone power.  The only requirement is that you put a picture of yourself in the center.  The rest is up to you:  color or black and white; drawing or photographs; poetry, prose or random letters.  Hang it up where you can see it every day.  (if you want  step by step help with creating a vision board, go here.)

Prose Tile by Tammy Vitale

Prose Tile by Tammy Vitale

Holding Space:  Crone Wisdom

Holding Space: Crone Wisdom

Photo of flower at the edge of asphalt.  Photo and quote by Tammy Vitale

Photo and quote by Tammy Vitale

I am reading a book, Sacred Success:  A Course in Financial Miracles, and actually doing the assignments in it.  Interestingly this is more about soul than dollars and I think that’s why it has hooked me.  I do not read it unless I have my journal at hand – it triggers a space for diving deep and looking around.

The book talks about ATBS – Addicted to Busyness Syndrome.  “It’s epidemic among women.  Busyness is our drug of choice.  We stuff every cranny of our lives with so much activity that we’ve lost touch with what’s truly essential and what’s actually irrelevant.  We’re running around doing what everyone expects – chauffeuring, cleaning, volunteering – convinced that’s our obligations as women.”

As long as we are busy, we will not notice how much of our power we give away in that busyness.

I spent 25 years working with nonprofits as a community-based organizer holding safe space for community folks

Matamorphosis:  orginal art by Tammy Vitale.  You can see it's creation here:

Matamorphosis: orginal art by Tammy Vitale. Click the picture to go to the blog on it’s creation.

to discover and step into their own power.  I realize that as a Crone, my job hasn’t changed at all.  As with community-based organizing, I don’t have to have all or even any of the answers.  Each person brings answers with them.  My job is to hold a safe space that let’s you take a breath, stop being busy trying to keep the darkness at bay, and “dive into the wreck” [Adrienne Rich] to find and pare down to the truly essential.

What is essential?  Growth.  With all its attendant pains and confusion and, yes, joy.  We have important work:  to weave our piece of the web as only we can do.

To do our important work, first we have to find ourself, then find what we do, then do it.  This is not a one-time thing.  We repeat again and again as “ourself” changes because we grow and gather new experiences.

That’s a lifetime of work and includes lots of transitions:  little deaths and rebirths.  The domain of the Crone is the crossroads of these transition times:  do we go forward or do we get stuck and regress?

Time to surrender to the call.  Or, as Brian Andreus says in his Illusion of Control story:  “If you hold on to the handle, she said, it’s easier to maintain the illusion of control.  But it’s more fun if you let the wind carry you.”

It is helpful and less scary to have a friend or guide when you’re still learning all this!

Over the coming days we’re going to look as several aspects of transitions.  Consider this your safe space:  step in, look around, adjust your eyes to the new light, reach out a hand, know you’re not alone.

Coming:  Compassion( first for ourselves and then for others) leads us to the center of our power.

And, just because, here is Verse XIV from my creation poem, Night Vision

“Can you see in the dark?”  Wolf eyes are yellow slits not
black pools; curious I did not detect that earlier.
Her fur has dried, her paw is on my leg, her breath is
garlic and seaweed
in my face
and the world has turned into liquid
but I can breathe.

“Open your eyes,” she says.
Having come from campfire light
to ocean dark
opening and closing eyes means nothing

there is no difference between open and closed.

“Leave them open.”  I do not know if it is order
or plea.

Slowly from the midst of darkness forms take shape.
Unfamiliar.  Frightening except for the paw steady and sure.

This is what I see:  there are others here.
Just like me.
Blind or half-blind walking
or crawling, running or, sometimes, standing,
each with a guide of fin or fur or plant or stone
being led through dusk not black
but shades of ebony and sable, coal and pitch, soot and smudge,
eel slick and obsidian shine
– with phosphorescent rainbows evident if viewed
from just the right angle
a small step to the side
making a large difference
in exactly what comes into view.

I wonder whether I have been living with my eyes open
or closed.



13 Ways to Find Your Tribe

13 Ways to Find Your Tribe

Find Your Tribe by Tammy Vitale

Find Your Tribe by Tammy Vitale

I was asked after my last post how to create a Tribe or a Community.

The bad news is that as with any relationships, it is not overnight, or even in a month.  Forming a Tribe takes time and discernment and a matching of energies – the same as friendship!  Because what is it if not friendship where you are willing to open and share heart talk that makes for that special community?

That said, the good news is that there are a ton of articles out there with great ideas.  LOTS of great ideas – which means you’re going to have to do some work.  But if you really want community, it’s worth it!

This tends to be all about bloom where you’re planted.  While my art isn’t the type that attracts crowds here in Southern Maryland (the on-going joke which is totally based in fact is that you have to paint birds, boats, barns or bridges if you want to sell art), it has attracted a closely-connected cadre of friends (who just also happen to occasionally do birds, boats, barn or bridges in their respective art forms.  Except me.  I do goddesses.).

And you don’t have to move to find yourself in need of a community.  Sometimes the “move” is an internal shift that moves you out of what were comfortable circles seeking something else because those circles are not longer comfortable – they pinch and rub.

So I’ve put together some ideas for gathering your Tribe:

1.  Before you start gathering the how, take a minute and decide what you’re looking for.  There is enough information out there that you could spend a lot of time running down the wrong trail and setting things in motion that aren’t helpful if you haven’t gotten clear on why you want a Tribe and what you want to do with them?  That will definitely also affect how many you want in your Tribe from 1 more to 100 or more.  Set realistic expectations.  The more specific you are about who your Tribe is, the longer it’s going to take to gather them.  And it’s worth it!

2.  Does your tribe have to be in person?  Or can it be on-line?  Some of my current bffs are on-line buddies!  And some of your on-line buddies may be close enough to become face-to-face buddies.  Mine your on-line hangouts (Facebook, Pinterest, favorite blogs, favorite newsletters) and see what they have to offer.

3.  Make a list of your interests and run through where and what you do around those interests, and follow up in your locale.

3 Women dancing (ceramic wall hanging) by Tammy Vitale

3 Women dancing (ceramic wall hanging) by Tammy Vitale

4.  Take a retreat close to home and see who you meet.  Take a continuing ed class.

5.  Check your local on-line and print media and see if there are any networking, neighborhood or newcomer groups you can join.  If there aren’t any, create one yourself.

6.  Talk to people while you’re waiting in line.  Tell them what you’re looking for.  Interview people (pretend or actually write an article or a book).  Ask them if they have a Tribe and how they found them.  Ask them who else you should be talking to.

7.  Start a book club, or a bird watching club, or a plein air group (if you’re a painter).  Like wildlife?  Check local environmental organizations and join in what they’re doing.

8.  Volunteer!  Research nonprofits in your area and pick one whose mission you can passionately support.

9.  Invite friends to invite a friend to a potluck and see what happens.

10.  Host salons (A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.  Find someone interesting?  Invite them to lead a discussion and then invite folks you think will be interested)

11.  Get politically active around an issue.

12.  Share your skills, whatever they are.

13.  Google “finding my tribe” and see what comes up.  Here’s what came up for me:

How to Build Your Tribe – Finding Your People

7 tips for Finding Your Tribe

Find Your Tribe… this is a blog by Jennifer Louden that is *very* comprehensive.  Be sure to read the comments for even more Tribe-finding gold!

There you go.  No better time to start than now!

A Crone’s Guide to Breaking the Rules

A Crone’s Guide to Breaking the Rules

(this is a rework of a previous post:  A Woman’s Guide to Breaking the Rules, February 2013)

original picture with original quote by Tammy Vitale

art and quote by Tammy Vitale

To repeat yesterday’s segue to this guide:

You do not raise your hand and politely ask if you may, please, begin breaking the rules now. No!  When the time has come to toss the rule book (probably the one you learned from in school), and you know it in your bones, the “raising-your-hand” moment is long past.  You have donned your fierce and are standing up- many times alone (or at least it sure feels that way) –  for your heart and your spirit, “the way it’s always been done” be damned.

Here is the Crone’s Guide – thoughts not rules.  We are no longer about rules!

1.  Recognize you aren’t alone or the only one.  Actively seek your tribe.  You will recognize them because they are the ones urging you on, saying hell YES!!” to each step you take.  They are NOT the ones encouraging you to turn back, to not rock the boat, saying “it’s always been this way.”

Finding your tribe offers more than validation and interaction, important as both of these are.  Your tribe provides inspiration and provocation to raise the bar on your own achievements.  In every domain, members of a passionate community tend to drive each other to explore the real extent of their talents.  Sometimes the boost comes not from close collaboration but from the influence of others in the field.  Ken Robinson.

original art, crayon on paper, by Tammy Vitale

original art, crayon on paper, by Tammy Vitale

2.  Acknowledge and welcome imperfections as signs that you are doing something new – there is no such thing as failure, only understanding what didn’t work.  Accept the mess that being imperfect often makes.

Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get.  Tidiness makes me think of held breath, or suspended animation.  Anne Lamott.

Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?” Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?”  Brené Brown

3.  Don’t Wait for Signs. Sera Beak says:  Watch out for becoming overly attached to signs and overly dependent on receiving them…Don’t sit back and wait for the doorbell to ring before you move.  Go ahead and ring it yourself.  Nudges from the universe are not necessarily being done (or not being done) to you; you are, instead, a partner in their creation, hence, you determine their presence and their consequences.

A favorite story, “Waiting for Signs”  from Brian Andreaus, creator of Story People:  I used to wait for a sign, she said, before I did anything.  then one night I had a dream & an angel in black tights came to me and said, You can start any time now & then I said is this a sign? & the angel started laughing & I woke up.  Now, I think the whole world is filled with signs, but if there’s no laughter, I know they’re not for me.

4.  Discover for yourself that there are no rules.    If you want rules you can make them up as you go along (see my modern fairy tale about that here) .  Dont worry about everyone else and what rule books they are following.  You are breaking the rules – all those rules that no longer work for you whether or not they once did.  You are doing what you came here to do instead of stewing in a job you hate or a relationship that does not support your being your best and truest self.  You are making the world a better place – simply by breaking worn out rules and following your heart and passion.  Which of course means living life at your most courageous.  At least it won’t be boring!

original journal art by Tammy Vitale

original journal art by Tammy Vitale

Wisdom traditions worldwide say there’s no greater blessing than to live the life of your soul, the source of your deepest personal fulfillment and of your greatest service to others.  It’s what you were born for.  It’s the locus of authentic personal power – not power over people and things, but rather the power of partnership with others, the power to cocreate life and to cooperate with an evolving universe.  Bill Plotkin

5.  Forgive yourself.  Forgive yourself whatever you need to forgive yourself, most likely for not being perfect however that manifests for you.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees

for hundreds miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
     love what it loves…  Mary Oliver

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.  David Whyte

6.  Don’t forget to celebrate something at least once every day.  Celebrate that you do not have to be stuck or live a life of “quiet

original art and quote by Tammy Vitale

original art and quote by Tammy Vitale

desperation.”  Celebrate that you have amazing choices in front of you that generations before would have gladly given their all just to taste, never mind live.  Celebrate each small step towards your Real Self and ignore all the clamoring desperate voices that would have you instead focus on what you don’t yet have or what you have lost.  Celebrate what is right in front of you right now, this moment.  It doesn’t take long.  Celebrate breaking the rules on-by-one as steps forward for not just you but for every woman who is waiting to find her tribe.  Light a candle.  Breathe in and be present.  Blow out the candle, breathe out gratitude.

7.  Pay attention to the stories you are telling yourself about your life.   “To relinquish your former identity is to sacrifice the story you were living, the one that defined you, empowered you socially  – and limited you.  This sacrifice captures the essence of leaving home…The great mystery that is this world, like a jigsaw puzzle, cannot assume its ultimate form unless every piece takes its true place.  We are born as the piece that can take that place.”   Bill Plotkin.


collage by Tammy Vitale (from her own originals)

collage by Tammy Vitale (from her own originals)

Strategies for Answering the Call of the Crone

Strategies for Answering the Call of the Crone

from Pinterest, no attribution

from Pinterest, no attribution

(quotes from the chapter “Homing: Returning to OneSelf” in Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes unless otherwise noted)

How Do We Answer the Call of the Crone?

Release the Old and Make Way for the New

When a woman goes home according to her own cycles, others around her are given their own individuation work, their own vital issues to deal with.  Her return to home allows others growth and development too.  Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This quote has been a guiding light to me since I first read it in the 90s.  And, as I note in my Master’s thesis: “In claiming my own space, I was trying to remove myself from the center of my family swirl, from being responsible for everyone’s emotions and having no time for my own.  I worked to give everyone back their own feelings and to begin to deal with mine.  While this was a healthy move, it was and is painful.  It requires my holding a boundary line when I, myself, am unsure of just exactly where that line should be to be the best for all concerned…My family began is own individuation work, kicking and screaming the whole way.  Healthy or not they very much wanted things to go back to the way they had always been.”

Cartoon by Greg Howard (sometime in 1991)

Cartoon by Greg Howard (sometime in 1991)

In The Female Hero in American and British Literature, Carol Pearson and Katherine Pope note:

The traditional female ideal of assuming responsibility for the lives of those around her is not only egotistical but doomed to failure…the myth that women are spiritually superior – responsible for saving men and children through remaining spiritually pure and selfless – oppresses both women and those around them.  The female hero ceases to be the still

from Pinterest, no attribution

from Pinterest, no attribution

center of power, inactive herself, who seeks to control the actions of those around her.  By electing to live her own life, she automatically frees those around her to live theirs…by emerging from behind the false facade of the ideal female image to be admired, she frees those around her of the guilt that her saintly countenance and selfless sacrifice impose on them, binding them to her and impeding their own psychological development.

The need to be responsible for everyone, putting ourself last in line, is one of the learned ways of being that it is time to release.  While “it is good to be generous and kind and helpful like the great healer archetype”, it is good only to a point.

Beyond that, it exerts a hindering influence on our lives…a major entrapment constructed by the requirements placed upon us by our own cultures, mainly pressures to prove that we are not just standing around taking up space and enjoying ourselves, but that we have redeemable value – in some parts of the world…to prove that we have value and therefore should be allowed to live.  These pressures are introduced into our psyches when we are very young and unable to judge or resist them.  They become law to us…unless or until we challenge them…The basic wild instinct that determines ‘only this far and no farther, only this much and no more’ must be retrieved and developed.  (Pinkola-Estes)

Recognize and Acknowledge the Call

You are accomplishing things but none of what you are doing feels good or substantial or gives you a feeling of satisfaction.  You are doing what you believe you have chosen to do, but the outcomes are dust.  “Discontent is the secret door to significant and life-giving change.”

For some, home is the taking up of an endeavor of some sort.  Women begin to sing again after years of finding reason not to.   They commit themselves to learn something they’ve been heartfelt about for a long time.  They seek out the lost people and things in their lives.  They take back their voices and write.  They rest.  They make some corner of the world their own.  They execute immense or intense decisions.  They do something that leaves footprints.

…When the culture, the society, or the psyche does not support this cycle to return home, many women learn to leap over the gate or dig under the fence anyway.  They become chronically ill and purloin reading time in bed.  They smile that fangy smile as if all is well and go on a subtle work slowdown for the duration…when the cycle is distrubed, many feel that in order to free themselves to go they must pick a fight with their boss, their children, their parents, or their mate in order to assert their psychic needs..If a woman has to fight for what is rightfully hers, she feels justified, feels absolutely vindicated in her desire to go home…If you can, it is better to teach your people that you will be more and also different when you return, that you are not abandoning them but learning yourself anew and bringing yourself back to your real life.

The wisdom of the crone cannot be underestimated. In her archetypal form, she embodies the sum total of the lived experience of all women. She is the one we tap into when we seek guidance, when we get real quiet and listen to the soft cracked whisper of a voice that spirals back through the ages. You know that voice; it’s the one that speaks with such a fierce compassion that it cuts through all of the fluff and all of the bullshit. photo:  Blurb not attributed

The wisdom of the crone cannot be underestimated. In her archetypal form, she embodies the sum total of the lived experience of all women. She is the one we tap into when we seek guidance, when we get real quiet and listen to the soft cracked whisper of a voice that spirals back through the ages. You know that voice; it’s the one that speaks with such a fierce compassion that it cuts through all of the fluff and all of the bullshit.
photo: Blurb not attributed

Understand What Is Being Asked of You

(from the chapter “Homing: Returning to OneSelf” in Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The seal woman returns to the sea, not because she just feels like it, not because today is a good day to go, not because her life is all nice and tidy – there is no nice and tidy time for anyone.  She goes because it is time, and therefore she must.

To not go home when so called is to become a zombie – someone who functions and may even accomplish things but one who has numbed herself to the Call.

  1. Going home does not necessarily cost money.  It costs time.  It costs a strong act of will to say “I am going” and mean it.
  2. Going home is not one size fits all.  The exact placement of the aperture to home changes from time to time, so its location may be different this month than last.  Rereading passages of books and single poems that are touching.  Spending even a few minute near water.  Lying on the ground watching clouds.  Walking or driving for an hour, any direction, then returning.  Greeting sunrise…..whatever helps you be centered and at peace…Home is where a thought or feeling can be sustained instead of being interrupted.
  3. You are becoming a medial woman – a woman who “stands between the world of consensual reality and the mystical unconscious” to mediate between them.
  4. You will bring new ideas to life, exhange old ideas for innovative one.
  5. Not everyone will welcome this.
  6. You do not raise your hand and politely ask if you may, please, begin breaking the rules now.

When the time has come to toss the rule book (probably the one you learned from in school), and you know it in your bones, the “raising-your-hand” moment is long past.  You have donned your fierce and are standing up — many times alone (or at least it sure

The aspect of the Goddess at Samhain is the Crone. The Crone is the Old One, who teaches us wisdom helps us let go when we need to grow change. Growing older means losing something as well as gaining something. The Crone teaches us that letting go is a natural part of life. When we let go of the old year, let it die, we make room for the new year, new things, to be born. The Crone handles the snake, the symbol of knowledge wisdom...because She too, is a symbol of knowledge wisdom. from Pinterest.  No Attribution

The aspect of the Goddess at Samhain is the Crone. The Crone is the Old One, who teaches us wisdom helps us let go when we need to grow change. Growing older means losing something as well as gaining something. The Crone teaches us that letting go is a natural part of life. When we let go of the old year, let it die, we make room for the new year, new things, to be born. The Crone handles the snake, the symbol of knowledge wisdom…because She too, is a symbol of knowledge wisdom.
from Pinterest. No Attribution

feels that way) –  for your heart and your spirit, “the way it’s always been done” be damned. And the real truth is, you are neither alone nor the first one to reach that point in your life.  While that may not make it easier, it does let you know that there is indeed a tribe of women out here waiting to welcome you with open arms.  We need you!  We need your fierce and your resolve and your energy, because we are out here changing the world:  one woman at a time. After living life a certain number of decades, it becomes abundantly clear that whatever rules are written in the accepted rule book, they are not ours.  Our story is not in the book. The rules do not work for us (nor were they meant to).  Audre Lourde puts it rather succinctly: …and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.

  What is stretching out inside of you?  What in your soul longs for re-connection?  What feels the greatness of unfolding Mystery when you gaze upon a marigold, or look up at the stars?  What in you might explode in a brilliant rush of heat and light?

Follow that.   (T. Thorn Coyle, in Making Magic of Your Life)

Next Post:  A Woman’s Guide to Breaking the Rules.

Answering the Call of the Crone

Answering the Call of the Crone

blog clarissaWho is the Crone?

Wikipedia defines the Crone as an archetype

The crone is a stock character in folklore and fairy tale, an old woman. In some stories, she is disagreeable, malicious, or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. The Crone is also an archetypal figure, a Wise Woman. She is marginalized by her exclusion from the reproductive cycle, and her proximity to death places her in contact with occult wisdom. As a character type, the crone shares characteristics with the hag

Wikipedia goes on to note :

The word became further specialized as the third aspect of the Triple Goddess [maiden, mother, crone] popularized by Robert Graves and subsequently in some forms of neopaganism, particularly Wicca in which she symbolizes the Dark Goddess, the dark of the moon, the end of a cycle. In New Age and Feminist spiritual circles, a “Croning” is a ritual rite of passage into an era of wisdom, freedom, and personal power.

We here in America do no honor aging as have some culture.  In fact, the very Boomers who are coming into the age of the Crone are the ones whose numbers started the cult of youth in the 1960s which was magnified by the new power of TV and profession of marketing to demographics:  a perfect storm. I claimed being a young Crone at 60 without really understanding what I meant by that.  At 66 I feel I’m fully into Cronedom/Hagdom and know that I am not alone in wondering exactly what that means. For me it is something other than the high-fashionistas  (even thrift fashion is expensive) of Advanced Style – which is no more than Vogue for the older set, and more even than the 80 plus (still rail thin) models with glorious gray (genes is luck, bottle we can also have) hair. For me the essence of Crone is well-described by Lucille Clifton:

Hag Riding

is what i ask myself
maybe it is the afrikan in me
still trying to get home
after all these years
but when I wake to the heat of morning
galloping down the highway of my life
something hopeful rises in me
rises and runs me out into the road
and i lob my fierce thigh high
over the rump of the day and honey
i ride i ride

and Anne Lamott:Anne Lamott

“Left to my own devices, would I trade this for firm thighs, fewer wrinkles, a better memory? On some days. That’s why it’s such a blessing I’m not left to my own devices. Because the truth is I have amazing friends and a deep faith in God, to whom I can turn. I have a cool kid, a sweet boyfriend, darling pets. I’ve learned to pay attention to life, and to listen. I’d give up all this for a flatter belly? Are you crazy?” Anne Lamott

What is the Call of the Crone?

2d-poster-Christina-BaldwinThe Call is that restless feeling – no matter where we are or what we are doing if it isn’t connected to our soul we *know* in our very body and heart and mind that there is something else we are being drawn to, called to.  The Call is spiritual.  We have gathered a life of experience.  What are we to do with it?

There is no more meandering.  There is no more escape – not one more errand to run, not one more load of laundry to wash and fold, not one more phone call to answer, not one more letter to type, not one more word I can write until I take the next step.  Until I am willing to fall. Standing at the very edge of the cliff I shout at god/us, “Are you sure I’m ready for this?  It seems we’ve been moving awfully fast these past few years…How do You know I’m ready?…the angel leans forward, kisses me on the lips. “Love is all that is real,” she says, “good-bye.”  She turns my shoulders around.  I face the edge.  I do not jump.  It is more subtle than that.  I simply let go. Christina Baldwin, Calling the Circle: The Once and Future Culture

Molly Gordon says:  “The great work is not about overcoming darkness.  Darkness and light will not be separated.  Our great work in our businesses and personal lives is to tend to what lives in the darkness so that, when it comes to light, it comes as a sprout breaking through the earth where it will bear fruit…There is no way back to ourselves and to each other that does not being with compassionate awareness that we’ve once again lost our way…”

In Women Who Run with the Wolves Clarissa Pinola-Estes notes that “The soul skin vanishes when we are not paying attention to what we are really doing, and particularly the cost to us…Psychologically, to be without the pelt causes a woman to pursue what she thinks she should do, rather than what she truly wishes.  It causes her to follow whoever or whatever impresses her as strongest – whether it is good for her or not…She pulls back from taking the next step, from making the necessary descent and holding herself there long enough for something to happen.”

How Shall We Answer?

Some of my traveling companions, who remind me to take a minute and celebrate my accomplishment.

Some of my traveling companions, who remind me to take a minute and celebrate my accomplishment.

We  “follow the call, even when we’ve no idea of where to go, in what direction, or for how long…Though women come back into themselves, draw on the [soul]skin, pat it closed, and are all ready to go, it is hard to go; really, really hard to cede, to hand over whatever we’ve been so busy with, and just leave.” (Pinkola-Estes)

We claim our divinity.

…there is a difference between intellectually believing you are divine (‘hey cool, I’m divine!’) and truly knowing you are divine through direct, conscious experience (‘holy shit! I AM Divine!’).  It’s a bit like the difference between believing the the idea of eating healthier – as in, you read a lot about it, and your health-nut friends all tell you it works, and you occasionally swap sausage for tofu – and actually having the energized, personal experience of glowing physical health because yo have consciously changed your own diet. Sera Beak,The Red Book.

Anyone in the throes of transition can identify with this Call.  All of life’s transitions take us through call, struggle to understand, response. This is not for the faint of heart, and not something to be done alone.  All hero’s have traveling companions.  Do you know who yours are? More to come on answering the call. blog world remade

Why You Should Care About and Fight Against Dominion/Cove Point LNG Export Plant Even If You Don’t Live in Lusby, Maryland

Why You Should Care About and Fight Against Dominion/Cove Point LNG Export Plant Even If You Don’t Live in Lusby, Maryland

picture of the ohio river

Nine citizen and environmental groups are urging West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to reconsider his plans to let companies drill for oil and natural gas underneath the Ohio River, citing concerns that drilling and fracking could contaminate the drinking water supply and increase the risk of earthquakes in the region.

LNG – liquid natural gas.

A short little bit of background with lots of links to educate yourself

Thanks to FERC (Federal Energy Regulator Commission, a NON-governmental agency populated by energy industry folks), we in Lusby will have an LNG Export Plant.  In the middle of a neighborhood.  And the only escape route should anything go wrong is by that plant.  Today concerned citizens held a rally in the homeowner’s yard opposite the gate to the plant to draw attention to the proximity to homes and real people who are in danger from that plant.

Oh, and by the way, the plant is on the Chesapeake Bay.  All you supporters who give money to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation should come talk to me – leave me a message here.  We’ll email.

We are getting to be nationally known, and here’s why you should care, because with this export plant in place, fracking is going to increase – because it has a market.  And new pipelines will be built to get that fracked gas to our plant.  Fracked gas contains, among other things, radon.  Lots of other stuff, but you’ll probably recognize radon so I’ll led you do more research.  You can see more in the poster to the right.

Fracking waste pits are virtually unregulated in the U.S., putting nearby residents at risk of exposure to cancer-causing chemicals like toluene and benzene. There are still a lot of unknowns about the chemicals involved in fracking, but here's what we do know about the health risks of waste pits

Fracking waste pits are virtually unregulated in the U.S., putting nearby residents at risk of exposure to cancer-causing chemicals like toluene and benzene. There are still a lot of unknowns about the chemicals involved in fracking, but here’s what we do know about the health risks of waste pits

We here in Lusby didn’t catch wind of any of this until the process was well under way.  Yes, The Calvert County Board of County Commissoners sold the citizens they are to keep safe for a handful of gold.  And in the scheme of things, it is a handful – one they might not even get now that demand globally – which is where this gas will all go; none of it is for domestic use – is decreasing.

The residents have been raising alarms about putting this plant in the middle of an established neighborhood, but all those with the power to do something have ignored facts, science and anything that might function as a conscience.  Now that FERC has given it’s approval, they feel free to admit that yes, emergency routes “might” be needed.

Tell me: how are hundreds of families plus the 2000 workers we keep hearing about all going to make it safely out of a plant with only a two-lane, no-shoulder road that runs in front of the plant.  Tell me that! “Might” indeed.

There’s a really good Facebook page if you want to educate yourself here, Citizens Against LNG Exports at Cove Point.

What I really want to share

This is one of the speeches given at today’s press conference, which I think  goes to the heart of all of this.  It was given by Yvonne Micheli, who I know from my being the religion educator at the Prince Frederick, Md, UU church where she is a

Yvonne Micheli speaking in the front yard of a house across the street from the plant.  Do you see how close the tanks are to people?

Yvonne Micheli speaking in the front yard of a house across the street from the plant. Do you see how close the tanks are to people?

member.  She is also a member of the group fighting Dominion Cove Point.  Yvonne kindly gave me her transcript to share:

Fracked gas refineries are dirty, dangerous, unsafe, and unhealthy from beginning to end.

Every person I have spoken to about this expresses worry, concern and fear; and many then go on to state that “it is a done deal” – some even state that we will be poisoned and/or blown up but there is nothing that can be done.

This is my response to that:

“Optimism is a political act.  Those who benefit from the status quo are perfectly happy for us to think nothing is going to get any better.  In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience.” {Alex Steffen, The Bright Green City}

When this county first became independent from England, those who could vote were male, white, owned property and often belonged to a specific church.  the power-that-be and the word-on-the-street said:  it’s a done deal.  But some citizens and wise leaders did not agree with that.

When women wanted to vote, the power-that-be said “not” to that possibility – it’s a done deal.  Again, some citizens and wise leaders did not go along with that.

lng explosion

6k gallons of gas exploding. Dcp has 410k. Imagine the possibilities. You can’t see the high rises in this picture. They are abt 1/4 inch at the bottom of the flames

After the civil war, people of color were disenfranchised, abused, lynched and denied access to education and opportunity.  The power-that-be and the word-on-the-street was:  it’s a done deal.  And some citizens and wise leaders did not stop speaking for justice and a greater good.

I was told that at one time, in a certain state, there was a law on the books that limited the thickness of the rod a man could use to beat his children and his wife.  I believe that those women and children were told that it was a done deal.  Again, some citizens and wise leaders did not nod and let the deal stand.

Throughout our history, destruction and injustice happened and were challenged so that change for the better could occur.

Today we stand here at Cove Point and say that this plant IS NOT A DONE DEAL!

Native American tradition teaches that each generation is to treat the earth in a manner which allows for the next seven generations to live upon it.  The major world religions speak about being stewards of the earth.  Interfaith groups, both in this country and abroad, work to stop the human addition to fossil fuels, an addiction that uses denial to threaten the existence of life on the planet.

The recent climate march in NYC and around the world included the participation of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light, Lutherans who marched for “a better worldliness,” Triangle Interfaith Alliance, and members of all of the major faiths of the world.

Why did people from diverse religious and theological perspectives join together in this march?

Real people live across and way too close to this plant.  And yet all who were supposed to protect us have been silent.  Even Barbara Mikulski who fought and beat the plant at Sparrows Point in Baltimore.  Is Lusby less than Baltimore?

Real people live across and way too close to this plant. And yet all who were supposed to protect us have been silent. Even Barbara Mikulski who fought and beat the plant at Sparrows Point in Baltimore. Is Lusby less than Baltimore?

Because this issue is profoundly a moral and ethical one.

the Unitarian Universalist’s seventh principle states that we respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Buddhist teachings tell us to care for the earth.

Islam teaches that humans are to be guardians of Allah’s creation.

Christianity teaches that the earth is God’s and he has entrusted it to us and that we will be accountable for how we treat it.

Jewish tradition teaches us to care for the planet in order to preserve what the Lord has given us.

None of these teachings tell humans that they are to close their eyes when witnessing practices that harm the earth and its inhabitants.  Instead, spiritual paths encourage us to not just talk the talk, but to walk the walk.

And so, here in Cover Point, we speak today stating the scientific facts about the health and safety dangers of this facility.  And we call on the religious and spiritual traditions to remind us to truly be stewards to our precious plant.

Thank you for letting me speak.

Thank You, Yvonne, for raising your voice!


Spunky Gals, Bold Dames, Audacious Wylde Women, Brash Crones:  Creating What You Crave

Spunky Gals, Bold Dames, Audacious Wylde Women, Brash Crones: Creating What You Crave

Detail of ceramic Tree Sprite, by Tammy Vitale:  I Am Enough

Detail of ceramic Tree Sprite, by Tammy Vitale: I Am Enough

Spunky:  courageous and determined

Bold: not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring

Audacious:  showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks

Brash: strong, energetic, or irreverent.


What adjectives do you use to define yourself?  And what noun?

What community do you belong to that supports that naming?

If you haven’t named yourself yet, please do.  And hold a naming ceremony to celebrate speaking who you are in this world outloud.  Consider letting it be something sacred that only you and your community know – something that takes you home to yourself when you feel like you’ve lost your way.

Don’t we all?  I do – regularly it seems.  So much so that I am starting, finally, to feel very comfortable whenever I get lost – it just means I’m on a journey of discovery and having not been yet to where ever it is I’m going, I get to be surprised!  Sometimes I like that.  A lot of times I don’t.  Doesn’t seem to matter – off I go again!2d map which way home

My special name came to me during a reiki session.  It is Red Rock Walker.  I see vast dry country, high red rocks and me on a dusty path between them – this before I’d ever been to Sedona in Arizona ( which, by the way, has an amazing water and forest canyon approach from the North – I could definitely live there!).  Odd since I love the coasts, the oceans and giant trees and ferns.  Desert and arid land has always been fun to visit but no where I’d want to live.  I just figure I haven’t yet grown into my name.

Only when you can name who you are, and how you plan to be in this world, can you get to the heart task of creating what you crave – you haven’t found it yet, right?  That means it’s up to you.

Pay attention.  Others are waiting to hear your (one and only, unique) story.

And no matter the question, moving from this space, the answer is not only “yes”, it is HELL YES!!!!!

2D Found My Way HomeWylde Women’s Wisdom

The heart knows.  There’s nothing to choose.  Just something to set loose….The vagueness will clear when you decide to embrace whatever you hear…You came with instincts and imperatives and they will thrust through the mud and bud in their own glad season.  It’s not your answers or ideas that you need to worry about.  It’s your resistance to your ideas, any immediate reaction to choke the strange and uncomfortable…the heart always knows.  You have everything you need.  Tama Kieves This Time I Dance 

Trending:  Why Doesn’t S/he Leave:  Domestic Violence

Trending: Why Doesn’t S/he Leave: Domestic Violence

blog dv 4This started to be a post on FaceBook but I realize that there is no short blurb way of telling this story.

If you don’t have time for this full piece, scroll to the bottom where you’ll find a good article on how to help someone in an abusive situation.

I was a domestic violence victim for 17 years, half my life by the time I finally made it out.  In those 17 years I divorced him and remarried him and chose to have 2 kids with him while we were still divorced.

Most of you who read my blogs, I think, would not consider me the victim type.  I did a lot of work to change from a victim to a brazen, confidant Wylde Woman.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I want to try to track some of this.

I was the only, adopted child of an alcoholic Mom.  My father held me to standards that were hard to attain.  If I can an A in school, he wanted to know why I didn’t get an A+.

Before my pre-teens I was active, and a tom-boy.  I liked jeans and t-shirts and flannel shirts (this is in the 50s) and was the only girl allowed to hang out with the 3 neighborhood boys because I was quite willing to fight if called for.  I remember being confident.  I was not afraid to talk back to adults I thought were wrong.

Then, something changed, and I remember being painfully shy.

Trying to find the thread, I think the shyness started in 5th grade, when I was looking at books in the aisle of Dart Drugstore on Lee Highway in Arlington Va.  Momma was a fewblog dv 2 aisles over looking at cards in one of those twirly stands they put cards on.  There was a man looking at books beside me.  I remember smiling a greeting to him and continuing to look at books.  I chose a book that had 2 stories:  a horse story and a dog story.  When I turned to go towards my Mom, he had his fully erect penis out, smiled at me, and said:  “You like this?”  I brushed past him.  I didn’t tell my Mom.  For 3 years.  I didn’t go back into that Dart Drug ever again.  My parents never asked why.

By the time I was in my teens, Dad would call Mom at night (he worked nights) and she’d be drunk and he’d have her put me on the phone and ask me whether or not she was drunk, with her standing there.  It felt like being put on the spot.  It *was* being put on the spot.  My life long distrust of psychiatrists started at about the same time – Mom was seeing one and he knew she was drinking and yet he was giving her downs to sleep and ups to wake.  She, on some days, did in a fifth of gin and half a fifth of bourbon. And some nights she would wake me to come write down long disjointed thoughts because her hand was tired and she felt she needed to get this all out on paper.

Up until 16 I was the “good girl/good daughter” personified.  I followed the rules.  I thought about being a nun (I was Catholic in a Catholic school).  I have my diaries with entries about being a nun.  I got good grades.  I made National Honor Society.

My cousin, raising hell for her own reason, came to live with us.  Out riding between Tops Drive Inns on Lee Highway in Arlington and Broad Street in Falls Church with her, I ran into my next 17 years.  She wasn’t shy.  The next night I lied to my Mom for the first time and said I was going to a school dance and went and met Him instead.

Maybe the shadow side of the Good Girl is the Rebel.  At any rate, I embraced that persona whole heartedly.  At school, no one really expected anything from me but my known Good Girl persona so I got through my senior year breezily, getting drunk on slow gin fizzes most dv 1

Senior Day I went to D.C. with friends and got drunk (18 was legal at that time).  I came home and slept some of it off and went to pick Him up from work and drop Him off at his house.  He was very angry that I had done this without Him.  Never mind I could never count on him to be where he said he was or to get me when he said he would.  We had a huge fight.  Huge.  I remember putting my seat belt on (which I never did back then), putting my foot on the break, flooring the accelerator and aiming for a telephone pole halfway down the street.  I woke up in the hospital.  He had taken his car over to get my Mom, who was drunk.  The first thing I said when I woke up was “Are you still mad at me?”  She didn’t notice, I guess, because she never asked about that.  48 stitches in my head, 1/2 block from stopped to high enough speed to snap a telephone pole in half, a totaled car, and neither of my parent asked me what was up.  Ever.

I felt unlovable.  I felt if he left me I’d be alone for the rest of my life.  I was 17.  There are more stories.  When we got married at 19 people were literally taking bets that we’d either kill each other or divorce within the year.


Domestic Violence Cycle

Domestic Violence Cycle

In case you don’t know, in battering relationships there is a cycle.  There is the honeymoon phase where everything is lovely and loving and couldn’t possibly be better.  Then there is the tension build up phase.  Intuitively the battered partner knows what’s coming.  After a while s/he will incite the battering phase just to get rid of the tension and get back to the loving phase.  The cycle can be years or hours.  It does not get better, not matter how many times the battering partner promises because the battering partner believes (and may not be able to articulate this) that if the battered partner would just [fill in the blank, it changes even within relationships and usually is actually something like:  "read my mind, fulfill all my wishes and make the rest of the world go away because it is your fault and their fault that I am so unhappy"],  then everything would be fine.  The battered partner believes that too, mostly for reasons of lack of self worth (see “unlovable” above), and tries to control *everything*.  Believes in perfection.  Tries valiantly to do the impossible.  Get’s verbally denigrated, pinched, pushed, punched anyways – incites it to get back to the loving phase.  Around and Around.  If I write it all down, we’ll have a book here, so I won’t.

In my opinion many of those “instances” of female on male violence are that incitement phase.  But maybe that’s just me.

Why I stayed:  All of my friends were in the same situation, more or less.  Isn’t that sad?  There were no empowered women around me anywhere.  I had no psychic support system.  My religious system (which I have long now discarded) said I was married forever and must take whatever I got.  I was the main money earner through all those 17 years so at least I had that, but women don’t earn that much and two small kids to support by yourself was no easy feat – easier than supporting him too but I didn’t know that yet.

Trying to Leave.  It took numerous separations, a divorce, a remarriage, 2 kids I loved fiercely and wanted to protect, and a broken eye and bruised ribs before I finally left.   Each time there were promises that it wouldn’t happen again.  Promises I wanted to believe.  Each time I was alone and didn’t know how to be alone because there was no “me” there.  I had no concept of wanting something for myself.  The idea of putting myself before *anyone* was as foreign to me as living on the moon might dv 3

How I Left.  It was the convergence of several things:  at work I was doing well for someone with just a high school education.  I was given more and more responsibility.  At home I could do nothing right.  Cognitive dissonance.  Big Time.  Lunch hour in the park every day for two years writing my way to understanding I could want something, writing what it was I wanted, prioritizing that list.  Last ditch weekends away together to talk.  Him:  “Let’s not ruin this time by talking about all that.”  His female heroin buddy calling in the middle of the night ostensibly for him to fix her battery.  My car not working the next morning and Him refusing to get out of bed to help me get it started to get to work.  Finding my daughter playing with a hypodermic needle.  My own rising rage that was flowing down hill to my kids. A magazine, Woman or something like that – one of the first with short articles and definitely not Women’s Day or Good Housekeeping, with an article that felt like a punch to the gut and a wake up call.  I shared it with Him.  He said so what.  Heroin Buddy calling the house even though I specifically told Him to have that stop, but I wasn’t answering the phone (denial).  I answered the phone.  He came back from visiting a friend across the street.  It was nighttime.  I started yelling.  He pushed me down on the couch.  I twisted around and attacked ready to claw his eyes out, He backhanded me, my cheek swelled up to where I could see it within seconds (broken eye socket).  Scared Him.  He left.  I had my prioritized list and it did not include this treatment.  I had Him arrested.  I’d like to say that was the end of it but of course we went through months of my having a Peace Bond and Him breaking it, trying to break in the house at night, coming for the kids, choking me, back to jail with the kids begging me not to.  All those lovely, very hard things.  The difference:  I had done the work, I was walking my way to empowerment.  I got individual therapy for me and the kids and group therapy for DV victims which was the best thing I ever did.  I could see it in others and then I could see it in myself.

Then I forgave myself for not figuring this out sooner.

Here’s a Good Article: much shorter than my whole thing if you don’t have time for all of the above:  …Helping Someone in an Abusive Relationship

Why Didn’t You Just Leave?



Poetry Saturday:  Naomi Shihab Nye

Poetry Saturday: Naomi Shihab Nye

inside title page with handwritten note by Naomi Shihab Nye to blog authorI have been cleaning my bookshelves.  Was packing today to take some more books to the used book store when I ran into 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East by Naomi Shihab Nye.  Signed by her to me.  It was in the “to go” pile, which made me 2nd guess myself.  Where you are on any given day can change your choices.  Any of them.  I am in the middle of wanting to scream about what’s going on in the Middle East.  And what we, America, are doing.  Again.

My father, the man who adopted and raised me, is Syrian Lebanese (it was one country when he was born, here in the U.S., his parents immigrants, so I don’t know which he is).  I am adopted.  Being adopted had its moments of difficulties.  Once my aunt, his sister, refused to talk to him in his last months in the hospital before he died to help me tell him he needed to go into a nursing home.  She said to me, “You wouldn’t understand. You have never had a family.”  Those exact words.  I was 46.  I had been his child for 46 years and yet I had no family in her mind.  I begged to differ and said I most certainly did have a family and they were gathered around me at that moment (my husband and kids).

My father and I had a volatile relationship – I was never the submissive woman he thought I should be.  Maybe submissive isn’t the right word.  I was a leftie, somehow.  He hard right.  Hard right.

Anyways, I arranged for a nursing home since I was not going to move myself and my family into his house, and he died 4 hours after he arrived.  He was having none of it.

Back to poetry and Naomi Shihab Nye, whose work I have loved for many years.  I sat and read a spell.

This is a beautiful little book.  As we jump into yet another war in the Middle East, I decided to share some bits and pieces with you.

In the Introduction, Naomi say:  “I dedicate these poems of my life to the wise grandmothers and to the young readers in whom I have always placed my best faith.  If grandmothers and children were in charge of the world, there would never be any wars.  Peace, friends.  Please  don’t stop believing.”

from Passing the Refuge Camp

Yesterday the soldiers smashed
Lena’s sink and tub and tiles

They whipped a father in front of his sons
ages 2 and 4

They do this all the time
The house filled with water

They locked the door on the crying boys
taking the father

Believe me Lena says
They had no reason

On the steps of the National Palace Hotel
soldier peel oranges

throwing back their heads so the juice
runs down their throats

This must their coffee break
guns slung sideways

They are laughing
stripping lustily

They know what sweetness lives withing
How can the know this and forget

so may other things?


from The Palestinians Have Given Up Parties

…..Where does fighting
come into this story?

Fighting got lost from somewhere else.
It is not what we like:  to eat, to drink, to fight.

Now when the students gather quietly
inside their own classroom
to celebrate the last day of school,
the door to the building
gets blasted off.
Empty chairs where laughter used to sit.
Laughter lived here
jingling its pocket of thin coins
and now it is in hiding…..

See the hand-tinted photos of young men:
too perfect, too still.
The bombs break everyone’s
sentences in half.
Who made them? Do you know anyone
who makes them
? The ancient taxi driver
shakes his head back and forth
from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They will not see, he says slowly,
the story behind the story,
they are always looking for the story after the story
which means they will never understand the story.

Which means it will go on and on…


from All Things Not Considered

You cannot stitch the breath
back into this boy.

A brother and sister were playing with toys
when their room exploded.

In what language
is this holy?

The Jewish boys killed in the cave
were skipping school. having an adventure.

Asel Asleh, Palestinian, age 17, believed in the field
beyond right and wrong where people
come together

to talk.  He kneeled to help someone else
stand up before he was shot.

If this is holy,
could we have some new religions please?

Mohammed al-Durra huddled against his father
in the street, terrified.  The whole world saw him die.

An Arab father on crutches burying his 4 month girl weeps,
“I spit in the face of this ugly world.”


Most of us would take our children over land.
We would walk the fields forever homeless
with our children,
huddle under cliffs, eat crumbs and berries,
to keep our children.
This is what we say from a distance
because we can say whatever we want…..


To do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome is the definition of insanity.  We have tried this before.  What can it hurt to change the steps to the dance into something new?