Celeste and June in November

“It’s Scorpio time,” said Celeste who as her name suggested paid some attention to the stars and their progress through the wheel of the year. “What is going to happen this year? Something always does….”

“Several somethings, no doubt,” said June dryly. “I always feel a little braced in November.”

“Is it time to conjure a few more wise ones? Wizards and witches, shamans and fools? It’s that season.”

“I think Owen is getting close to his Chironic wounded healer power and Thea is diving deep with her painting. Really everyone is taking some major leaps right now. The dream world has been hopping. And the birds are pretty excited. Almost spring-like in some ways or mid-summer when the raucous young ravens fledge.”

Celeste yawned and stretched thinking how tired she was and that tomorrow was a school day. A fire twinkled merrily in the grate, welcome sustenance on this chilly night. She licked her forefinger and pressed it to glean the remaining chocolate chip cookie crumbs from the plate Ariel had presented them earlier. “Maybe I should take your advice about retiring soon. Rhea is coming along nicely as a teacher and I can imagine leaving the Illahee School in her competent hands. I have my eye on Ariel too.”

“That would be a huge step for you,” responded June, not daring to hope her partner would act on the suggestion any time soon, yet knowing that the time was inevitably approaching. “It would be lovely to have you present here in a different way. I wonder what that would look like.”

“More sewing and clothes design for one thing. I could get serious about my astrology and astronomy studies for another, I still have such a strong feeling that you and I are here from the stars. I’d like to explore my connection with the Pleiades.”

“And I with Sirius. We are spirits learning to be human.”

“Oh no. I just thought. What if our true homes are different worlds. I don’t know if I could bear to be separate from you, dear heart.”

“Perhaps we’ll just need to come back here again…. so we can be together…..” Each fingered the single diamond in her own left ear, a pair split one holiday season to remind them of their origins in the stars. Each then reached across to finger the twin sparkling in the other’s ear, looking into each other’s eyes. It was a ritual that never failed to delight them. A quick hug sealed with a kiss and they sat back again in their corners of the blue chintz love seat drawn in front of the fire.

“I know that Pluto and Neptune are dancing in tandem. Shadow selves being fished out of the deep by the watery king, while Jupiter makes it all loom large. Is there something we should be doing to help things along?” asked Celeste, pouring herself a little more from the delightful Goddessy Damiana liquour bottle between them.

June added another log to the fire – wood Arlo had split – and then decided to warm up her cooling cup of Cindy’s lavender and tulsi tea nestled in the duck down cozy that Caliente had made for them. So lovely having evidence of younger friends all around them. The fire happily kindled more brightly and the stars twinkled outside the window.

“It feels like there is some heat bubbling in various quarters…. sexually I mean. It could stir things up to have some company in that realm.”

“Other female couples?”

“I don’t know about that. Sure, it would be nice to have more witchy lesbians around, but I have a feeling that’s not so important as raising the general heat level around here. Ours too, of course.”

Their hands reached across the small distance between them to clasp warmly and then following suit, their heads bent forward as well. Lips connected and softened, opening to allow tongues to do their dance. Each put a hand on the other’s cheek. And drank deeply. “You smell good,” said one to the other. Breath came faster for a moment then stilled again. They drew apart, their eyes open deeply to each other, content to let the stirring in their cunts simmer for a bit.

“Do you ever wish we were younger, Celeste?”

“You mean like I would have grabbed you hard in the old days and we’d be rolling on the floor by now with or without our shirts?”

“Nice memories, aren’t they?”

“I keep having the feeling that if there were more juice around us, we’d have more juice between us. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking….”

“When you wish upon a star…. “ Celeste sang. “Venus is rising again in the east aka Inanna returning from the Underworld to greet her lover.”

“Remember back when I was whining about how there was no one else to play with magically?”

“I wasn’t very willing to take part in those days, was I?”

“You were busy putting energy into the school. You still are.”

“I know,” Celeste said ruefully. “It’s all-consuming.”

“And worth it. You’ve helped a lot of young folks come into their own. Look at the marvelous crop abroad now, both those here and those out a’wandering about the globe.” June thought longingly of Marina Goodwin-Brown, a favorite of hers.

“Still…..”

“I remember I had to take myself firmly in hand and do the psi stuff on my own. Let my sand tray work be shamanic, even if my clients didn’t always realize it. I learned how to move myself in that space of magic and mystery, letting even ordinary, everyday actions have meaning and import. Model the world I want to be living in. It’s a challenging discipline.”

“You do it so well.”

“Not all the time, of course, but I had such marvelous training from my earliest years. I thank my mother and aunts daily. Plus I keep my life quiet enough that I can usually open my heart center to operate from. All my chakras really. As you know, it doesn’t work if I’m out in groups too much. No dancing or drumming for me much less city council meetings or board memberships, no matter how worthy the cause. I just can’t stay centered when I am pulled every which way by people’s energies and dramas and fears. I get seduced into caring too much about the details then. I can manage it one on one with clients if I’m very careful and cleanse after every session. Put their worry cares into my little cauldron to work themselves out on their own…. Of course, sometimes a particular group thing calls me….”

“Seems like there have been more than usual this fall. You got us to the Equinox Labyrinth, the Demeter and Persephone women’s ritual, and even Day of the Dead. I’ve been amazed.”

“I’m tracking that about myself obviously. Seems like things are heating up somehow and my Inner Guidance keeps saying I’m needed to be present – to nudge things a bit more than in years past. Maybe it’s all finally coming together….”

“Have you noticed Gabriel and Jasmine Terranova’s energy? It’s very intriguing.”

“Kind of sparking…. They haven’t opened up yet about all they know…. Getting their bearings I assume. And who on earth are Ken and Marsha? They’re taking Ursula’s class. I come across him wandering around in the dream time but he’s pretty unconscious….”

“I’ll bet one or both of them show up in your sand tray studio soon.”

“We’ve been waiting an awfully long time. Is it finally long enough? We always knew people would show up and grow into their power.”

“You helped heal a bunch of them.”

“As you helped raise a bunch.” June raised her teacup to salute Celeste. “We both are available when the big energies need us.”

“I’ve always thought it amazing that we can live here in a group house….”

“Luckily we have our little suite.”

“And Owen is such a steady soul.”

June raised an eyebrow. “You’re forgetting….”

“I suppose I am. But at least we weren’t all living together during his pot and alcohol PTSD years. Nor during his sadness while Susan died and then when Robin fledged from the nest. But that led him to invite us into the house. What a blessing that has been. We’ve helped him anchor, I think.”

“Not to mention the stray urchins who pass through here. We always seem to know which ones will work for us, and us for them.”

“Usually. I think Ariel is a keeper, though I don’t suppose she’ll be content in this house forever. She will stay in the area now.” June spoke as if saying it made it so which it did. “She’s home, you know.”

“Probably she’ll partner up. I have a feeling it might be with a woman, speaking of that.”

“Speaking of that.” Their hands reached out massaging knees and sliding up thighs to their matched pair of v-shaped crotches…. The flames kindled a bit more this time. “I do believe there is a little juice flowing, Sweetie. Shall we adjourn to the bed? As inviting as the fire is, this floor is awfully challenging to my hips nowadays.”

“Not just yet,” said June. “I’d like to dedicate our rising flame to the collective fire – juice and muscle, sinew and bone. Semen and fallopian tubes – even ours that aren’t doing much any more. Our memories will suffice and can flow forward from the past into the future.” She turned her eyes towards the winged Isis statue that knelt on the mantle piece surrounded by lavender sprigs, calendula and feather bouquets, several cowrie shells and a large piece of obsidian. “May the Goddess bless all our unions and the gods rise to the charms and calls of Venus, Inanna and Isis. It is time. Help me up, Celestina mia, my knees are a bit creaky tonight.”

 

 

Bellies

“So what is it about our big bellies?” Molly broached the delicate subject bravely to Thea as they relaxed on their elbows on a sunny grassy patch in Thea’s back yard, the objects in question very much in evidence. She was feeling rather coyote-ish today. Wanting to goose herself and thought maybe her new friend was up to the challenge, given all the bellies in Thea’s paintings they’d just been looking at. “Did yours come in menopause or have you always been this shape?”

“Oh definitely menopause,” responded Thea. “I was relatively small breasted ‘til then.”

“Me too. When I was nursing Ethan my breasts were large, of course, but they went back down. I could never figure out why I needed big breasts after the Change. It’s not like I’d be producing any more babies. Do you have food issues too?”

“Some. I’m definitely an emotional eater. There’s nothing like a box of Ritz crackers when I’m feeling blue. Luckily it’s only one box though and mini-binges of cookies when I’m edgy or overwhelmed. Mostly I don’t keep them in the house.”

“It’s Wheat Thins for me. With my Cancerian sun I’ve been told I incline towards emotional eating. So I figured that was my excuse,” Molly laughed. “I use chocolate to keep me going at ReBound. There are always goodies sitting around. People love to bring us treats, often homemade. In low moments I’ve even been known to dig into the instant cocoa, adding a little water to moisten it and eating it straight. Only when nobody is looking, of course!”

“That’s a good one,” Thea laughed. “Chocolate is the only thing I lie about. I still drink coffee too.”

“I had to give that up years ago because it made my breasts sore. I only have it now as a treat or when I really want to get something done. The staff love it when I do: ‘We’ll get work out of Molly today!’”

“But really,” said Thea. “I doubt that either of us eats all that unhealthily or in great quantity. Especially compared to how I ate growing up. I don’t have serious food issues – bulimia or anorexia – like some people I know. Thank goodness. It feels to me like there is something else going on. I get so jealous of people like Ursula. She seems to eat whatever she wants and never shows it. I’m sure she has other issues, of course.”

There was a pause while they both imagined being able to eat without being so conscious of weight gain all the time. What would it be like to live without that guilt?

Molly broke the silence, “I have a theory that it’s about hiding from our power. Either hiding what’s really going on from the outside world – and ourselves – or our flab is protectiveinsulation from the energetic missiles shot (mostly unintentionally) from the people around us. Or just being so empathetic. Probably all of the above.”

“That makes sense. You’re out in the public a lot more than I am and I’ve heard you talk about ReBound as a place where a lot of stale energy is flying around, but I’m definitely shy and protective about my forays into weirdness and woo woo. You seem so self-confident though. Of course, I haven’t known you very long.”

“In some ways I am and I’ve had a lot of experience with the spiritual stuff. But I know I’m not completely in my power. There are frontiers I’ve been afraid to cross though I don’t quite know what they are.”

“Do you feel comfortable in your body?” asked Thea, knowing that she herself wasn’t most of the time.

“Hell, no. I try to see my weight as a normal part of being an older woman. But I look just like my mother did which is most irritating, as I swore I never would be like that.” Molly smiled knowingly, pushing her glasses further up on her nose. “I’d so much rather have gray hair than be fat! The thing that really ticks me off is that I thought I was fat before. Now I look at old pictures and want to weep because I didn’t appreciate how thin I actually was. My mom had me drinking diet shakes when I was a teenager and stressing about it way back then. I sometimes wonder if that way of thinking set me up for this.”

“I keep going back and forth between trying to identify with all those fat, black mamas in my cultural lineage and thinking I could lose weight if I just concentrated on it enough.”

“Exactly. Or knew enough about magic and healing. Do I relax into who I am and what I look like in the now? Or knuckle in and do the healing work necessary to get to a place that’s physically more comfortable for me? I do a lot of yoga and I hate it that my stomach gets in the way in Child’s Pose.”

“I have the same questions. I know regular dieting is not the answer. Nor is guilt tripping myself. I’ve tried both and the weight always comes back. Been there, done that.”

“Avoiding dairy helped me lose weight for a while,” said Molly. “It cleared up some of my gut issues too, but the weight didn’t stay off even though I mostly still avoid dairy…. I think. It’s so hard to be honest with myself about what I actually do and don’t eat. There’s will and there’s surrender and it’s a fine, fine line there where it ought to click.”

“Third chakra stuff.”

“Duh!” Molly stared at Thea and, amazed she’d never made that connection before, bopped herself lightly on the head. “You’re so right. Stomach is third chakra!”

“Sometimes I think the fat mama image is just a black stereotype I’m trying to avoid. And that makes me feel guilty too.”

“For me it’s the Earth Mama stereotype. Which I kind of like. Either way it’s not a shape our dominant culture values. When I think about it that way I feel I should let go of worrying about it just to show that one can be smart and grounded and eat well and be FAT.”

“P.H.A.T.” Thea spelled it out. “Thinking about it with that spelling, makes it a more positive, damn-the-cultural-ideal thing to me.

“That’s cool,” said Molly. “It’s like Ursula and Pia being determined to use the word ‘witch.’ It makes people nervous and calls up all sorts of negative images and they can handle that. Groove on it, actually.”

“For me the bottom line is being healthy.”

“Yes, I don’t ever want to have to give up climbing the Mountain or doing yoga. Those activities ought to be helping me.”

“That’s helping you stay healthy. Just not thin.”

“Well, if I did it more often….”

“Or didn’t eat carrot cake from Angel’s afterwards. I deserve it, you know, after all that good exercise!” They both howled knowingly.

“The intention thing is so tricky,” Thea picked up the thread. “We so often ask for what we want in ways that our bodies and psyches can’t understand. I read somewhere that when we ask to lose weight, all the spirits and our bodies hear is ‘weight’ and they give it to us.”

“Or when I surrender to whatever wants to be,” said Molly, “but then hedge the bet a little by having a stressed image of really wanting the thinner version of the possible future me.”

“Mostly I mind all the energy it takes. It seems like there are so much more important things to focus on.”

“Sure is a good teacher though. An alcoholic or drug addict can drop the addicting substance completely – not that it’s easy but it’s possible. As embodied humans we can’t not eat. We have to sustain ourselves so the issue is always there in front of us.”

“What a journey. I suppose I’d rather have this belly as a teacher than cancer or drug addiction.”

“And I do love the way my belly feels when I give people full body hugs. There’s a lot of good energy there,” Molly said, patting it fondly.

“Your specialty. Nothing quite like a Molly hug. Cures whatever ails ya’.”

Molly grinned and jumped up. “I need to get going. Thanks for the tea and thanks for the talk. Let’s keep in touch about this. I have a feeling it’s a good magical edge for us to both make some shifts. Let’s think about our Third Chakras – liver and gall bladder. Pancreas. Owen would recommend Dandelion and Yellow Dock. Let’s see if he has some essences or tinctures. Maybe Rhea can teach us some belly dance moves so we can celebrate our bellies more.”

Mother Daughter Ritual 2

Molly sat in the car feeling the tenor and tone of her mental and physical fatigue. “I’ve gotten this far – dirty jeans exchanged for clean; green plaid shirt for the blue…. Now I need to start the car, pull out the hand break, put it into reverse….” She tended to speak to herself when she was in this state. “Thank goodness I have an automatic shift now. One less set of details to track…. I don’t have far to go this evening. I’ll be fine.”

Her mind groped towards the ceremony ahead. She’d noticed before that she needed to be deeply tired in order to allow herself let go out of her doing self into her magical receiving self. “Does it take exhaustion for me to hear the voice of the Goddess? That’s hardly a healthy way to go about it…. but maybe it’s the best I can manage at this juncture in my life.” She took a deep breath. And another.

“How do I prepare myself for the content of this ritual?” She thought about her son Ethan who lived in the city. He was not far away and his connections here actually brought him home fairly often. No complaints there.

What washed over her was how much she minded not having a daughter. Her matriarchal line ended with her. It had been umbilical to umbilical to umbilical down countless generations of women. She was the last. Hardly a new thought, but tonight a particularly deep level of sadness welled inside her along with a pang of jealously for her sister in Southern Oregon who had two daughters, as did Ursula…. A sob welled in her chest.

Molly pulled to the side of the road to look out over the ocean for a good weep. Her thoughts were tortured. “If I had been able to stay with you, oh husband once mine, maybe we would have had another child that maybe would have been a daughter…. Who maybe would now have a child…. Faugh! Enough of these tired ‘what ifs.’ Perhaps the work for tonight is to let go of this hugey grief.” Releasing old pain was surely part of coming into new awareness – becoming healed…. Demeter could help….

 

Happily enfolded in her goddessy dress, hair only a little damp from her rainy communion with the elements, Ursula set up the altar in the middle of the frayed oriental carpet that had come from ReBound years ago. She spread a red silk cloth shot through with gold and set on it the vases and candles she’d prepped. Running back upstairs to her bedroom, she located a white bowl decorated with wheat sheaves. Back down again, she filled it with Mountain spring water. Should she light the candles now or wait ‘til people arrived?

That question was answered by a knock on the door that turned out to be Pia arriving early with an armload of grasses for the altar, as well as a red bowl of pomegranate seeds and a few whole ones.

“Molly got these to me yesterday so I could pick out the seeds ahead of time. What do you think about leading the young women off to the hot tub with the pomegranate seeds?” she asked.

“That might be perfect,” answered Ursula. “But how ‘bout we wait to see if it fits in the moment? I see more cars arriving. Will you smudge people in the entryway? I want to use the rain stick just inside the door. I’m thinking it should be a non-chatty beginning tonight.”

So Pia stood tall and elegant in a rainbow-striped caftan, her frizzy henna-dyed hair aglow, as women came into the large entryway lined with benches. Umbrellas and walking sticks stood in a tall handmade urn. Each hung their wraps on the hooks that once sported children’s jackets, added their shoes to the jumble that lived there and, one by one, stood to receive the cleansing wafts of white sage from Pia’s bundle. She waved it over each head, down the front with a spiraled focus over their wombs, and went all the way down to their feet, which some people raised to get the bottoms cleared. Then up the backs of their legs and spines with another spiral at their back heart before circling the head again. Finally with a kiss on their forehead or cheek and sometimes a whispered word or two, she sent them through the French doors into the living room.

She admired Cindy’s new purple hooded cape and thanked June & Celeste for their role as counselors, pleased to have them there though they weren’t mothers as far as she knew. Sensing Molly’s tiredness, she gave her a little extra attention until she could feel the ReBound Director sink into this place rather than the outside world. She winked at Thea who was looking around in wonder. Could this be her first time here?

Cali entered the familiar space of her old home with a smile. It always smelled the same, even with the overlay of whatever had last been cooked. What was it? Damp coats, smudge certainly and just a tiny whiff of the cat box. Her mom must have skipped that prep detail. She gave Pia a hug and her mom one too once she went through the door, where Ursula was tipping a long rainstick up and down each person’s body. “Could you light the candles?” Ursula whispered. “I never quite got to that.”

When it seemed like all had arrived and settled into a circle, Ursula moved to stand in a spot left for her. Everyone else stood listening as she continued the soft shuuush shuuuush of the rainstick. “Feel your roots going down into the ground like rainwater – nourishing, replenishing, centering into the Mother. Feel the Mother’s warmth coming back up into your root chakra and up through each energy wheel in turn, through belly, solar plexus, heart, throat, to your third eye. Feel washed and grounded by the Mother all through your body.”

Ursula stopped the rainstick and Molly dinged together the two discs of a Tibetan chime. “Feel this sound in your third eye. Feel it shimmer with your consciousness up through your crown to burst out of your head and shoot up past the clouds and the moon. Feel it swoop around the Universe. Then bring the starry light –  let’s call it masculine light tonight – back down into your crown, down past your third eye, through your throat and your heart to glow there in your diaphragm. Mother Earth and Father Sky. We are here.”

Turning to the East, the group called out associations with that realm. “I call on Eagle for the wider vision.” “Clarity.” “Inspiration.” “Breath.”

Facing South next, a few began to clap their hands and shimmy a little. “Fire!” “Warm hearts.” “Passionate feelings.” Cali glowed, this being her favorite element and direction.

Watery West brought new voices into the mix. “Dreams.” “Mermaids.” “Orca’s telepathy.” “Gray Whale.”

Facing North, the group began to stomp. “Ancestors, we call you in with all your stories.” “Polar Bear.” “Rocks and bones.” “The Mountain.”

Finally turning back to the center, and raising their arms high they called in unison, “To the Above.” Then they bent to touch the ground, “To the below,” and rising to extend hands forward, “To Spirit, the Great Center.”

Pia called out triumphantly, “The circle is cast. We are between the worlds.”

Thea felt a shimmer down her spine.

Ursula stood silent for a few moments, then took up her bright feather be-decked rattle and spoke into its rhythm. “The harvest is mostly in, the herbs are drying on the racks, tinctures are a-brewing. The serious rains are coming. It is close to the time for the bears among us to go inward. We are accustomed to the march of seasons here. But once upon a time in these latitudes and in many around the world, it was always summer. Demeter and her daughter Persephone (sometimes known as Kore) played in the fields and gardens year round. They wandered among the ever-growing plants and ever-bearing trees plucking what they needed. They nibbled on berries and spinach, threshed grain, and dug up carrots and beets. It was a rich, sweet life.” Ursula paused so all could remember and soak it up.

“Yet, there came a time when Persephone was beginning to feel a little restless. She had recently begun to bleed every month and was noticing the young men eyeing her. None of them had caught her fancy enough for her to forego the pleasure and security of her mother’s company…. So far….

“Then one day, as she was picking flowers in the meadow Persephone noticed a dark stranger standing at the edge of the forest. He was tall and beautiful, with a spotted wildcat skin around his loins and curling hairs on his bared chest. He was older than she….”

“Sexy,” someone pronounced and everyone giggled. Ursula nodded and winked.

“Persephone was very intrigued by him. Acknowledging her interest, he put the set of pipes Pan had given him to his lips and beckoning with his eyes for her to follow, he turned and slipped between the trees deeper into the forest. Who among us wouldn’t have been at least tempted to follow? Persephone, though hardly of an impetuous nature, never even looked back. She followed the stranger all the way to his gloriously bedecked cave deep within the earth….”

Rhea moaned and all the women followed suit, elbowing each other knowingly.

“Ah, but when Demeter tells the tale she sounds like a Mother Bear: ‘I was at the far end of the garden tending to the grapes when I looked up to see a dark bearded man shrouded in a cowl, grabbing my beloved Persephone. He dragged her screaming into a huge crack in the earth that had opened at the edge of the forest. I dropped my basket of fruit and dashed after them but the crack closed and they were nowhere to be found. I searched and called and threatened to no avail. I moaned and mourned, pounded the earth and tore my hair ‘til the skies became dark and the rains fell like never before. Not gentle rains but hurricanes and typhoons, one after the other. Such tempests seemed fit mourning for the abduction and rape of my Persephone.

“’This went on for months until all was laid waste such that famine threatened. The people, unaccustomed to having to fend for themselves, begged me to forget about my grief for my daughter and let the sun shine again so that their food could grow.

“’Finally able to hear their plight, I sent Hermes to the Underworld to beg Hades for her return, for that was who I learned had taken her. Hermes and Hades reached agreement that Persephone could come back but before she left, hellish Hades tricked her into eating a single pomegranate seed…. For the Fates had a rule that whosoever consumed food or drink in that place of death was doomed to spend eternity there and so the compromise was that Persephone must return to the underworld for six months out of each year. Thus each year we have six months of autumn and winter when I mourn my daughter’s absence, and six months of new growth and warm weather in spring and summer when she is returned to me.’

“This is how the mother tells the story, thinking the worst. And this is how the Patriarchy has told it through several millennia, being rather enamored of rape and pillage and macho displays. But what if Persephone was actually happily ensconced with her lover – a beautiful wild man who treated her magnificently, fed her elegantly, and loved her well and often. She did sympathize with her mother, of course….”

“Of course.” Was the group’s tone just a teensy bit sarcastic?

“So when the bargain was struck she didn’t mind going back up for part of the year, but she always returned to the dark world and her true love with joy and anticipation…. Now some stories say she was also “Mistress of the Labyrinth” and it is appropriate that we think of her as such given our recent journey into the Equinox Labyrinth. I also like to think of her as a healer – an edge-dweller, She who is willing to go deep into the mysterious shadows but who is also the bringer of Spring.”

Ursula sat down quietly with her hands in her lap, waiting to see what would happen next. It wasn’t long before June spoke, “There is another dimension to this story that I love. Persephone and Demeter came to represent the great wheel of life, death and rebirth. They were celebrated in ancient Greece in the Eleusinian Mysteries at this time in late September. The women danced wildly, took hallucinogenic potions, and were part of secret rites that have never been described to this day, it being death to any who told of them to the outside world.”

“That gives me shivers,” said Cindy, her almond shaped eyes aglow with ancient memories.

“Me too,” agreed Ursula. “I’d forgotten that part when Demeter came to me so strongly last week. It was as if she were asking for this ritual.”

Thea didn’t say anything, still being so new to all this, but thought of her Mountain Woman painting. Was it Persephone in her cave being with the shadow side? Or was it a local native version of a similar archetype?