*Note: Today, I am so excited to share a guest post from Molly, the owner of the Woodspriests blog. I discovered here blog late last year and read it religiously. It is always a source of inspiration. As mentioned in my previous post, I simply love her writing, the poetry and the experiences and insights she shares about connecting to the woods, Gaia and Goddess wisdom. I hope that your enjoy this wonderful treat.
Guest Post: Theapoetics and the Woodspriestess
Twelve years ago when we decided to buy some land on which to build our home, one of the deciding factors was the cool big rocks on the hillside behind where we imagined building our house. Over the years, we would go out and walk through the woods and stand on the rocks and I often said that I wanted to create a sacred space down there to visit regularly. As I realized later, there was no need to “create” the sacred space, it was already there! Following two miscarriages, I would often go to the woods to sit on a chair-shaped rock and connect with nature and my body. During my subsequent pregnancy with my daughter, I would return to this place to sit and connect with my baby and prepare for her birth. After she was born, I brought her to these rocks and these woods to “introduce” her to the planet. At some point at the end of 2010, I suddenly “heard” the words priestess rocks when I was standing out on these large flat stones that look out over the horizon. It felt like their name, I suddenly knew it…
In late December 2012, I decided to begin a year-long spiritual practice of “checking in” every day at the priestess rocks in the woods. I committed to spending at least a few minutes there every day, rain or sleet or shine, with children or without, and whether day or night throughout 2013. My idea was to really, really get to know this space deeply. To notice that which changes and evolves on a daily basis, to see what shares the space with me, to watch and listen and learn from and interact with the same patch of ground every day and see what I learn about it and about myself. I wanted to really come into a relationship with the land I live on, rather than remain caught up in my head and my ideas and also the sometimes-frantic feeling hum of everyday life as a parent and teacher. When I went down to the woods to “listen” to this idea, I spoke a poem that included the word “woodspriestess,” and I thought…maybe this is what I’m doing…maybe this is who I am. As planned, I maintained my practice throughout 2013, eventually spending approximately 330 days in this same place in the woods (some days were missed due to traveling).
I tend towards a Goddess-oriented, panentheistic, spiritual naturalism. When I enter the woods, I often experience what I have termed “theapoetics“–spontaneous, spoken aloud poetry that brings me into direct connection with that which I would call the Goddess. In an excellent anthology of essays by priestesses (or “sibyls”) called Voices of the Goddess there is a section that makes me reflect on the theapoetical experience:
The Goddess grants her gifts of creativity in many ways, but the personal invocation, the inspired lyrical utterance is always nearest to the surface. This poetic wellspring is part of the sibylline legacy and there is no denying it. It speaks the language of the blood and belly as well as the language of the crystalline stars. It is a weaving song that meshes heaven and earth with the underworld. Poetry is the mouthpiece of the metamemory, the deep, ecstatic memory of an oral tradition that remembered the Goddess daily in domestic and tribal rituals. Since there are not Goddess rituals or liturgies from former times, we have written our own, often drawing directly upon the raw material of personal experience…Poetry can both bless and uproot, it can extol or refute. It is the true voice of the Goddess speaking through her sibyls. Personal or prophetic, poetry is communication with a deeper level of understanding. It is a gateway for the Goddess to pass through. –Caitlin Matthews in Voices of the Goddess
While I wouldn’t venture to call myself “prophetic,” I do experience something personally very important to me there in the woods. When I wrote about theapoetics for Feminism and Religion, I included this poem:
Goddess, where are you?
I am within you and around you
in your heart that seeks answers
Goddess, do you exist?
Yes, I am as real as your own heartbeat.
I am here in the bird’s song
I am here in the breeze that touches your face
I am as solid as the stone you sit on
I am that which weaves the Whole.
I am that which holds the All.
I am that which flows,
through the heartbeat of every form on this earth
I am within you and around you
beneath you and above you
I am your home
I am that which you seek
I am that which you know
And, I love deeply, richly, and well.
Several months ago, one of my Facebook friends posted a link to an article that posited an explanation for how human create the “imaginary friends” that are then termed their “gods.”
“Consider how some people attempt to make what can only be imagined feel real. They do this by trying to create thought-forms, or imagined creatures, called tulpas. Their human creators are trying to imagine so vividly that the tulpas start to seem as if they can speak and act on their own. The term entered Western literature in 1929, through the explorer Alexandra David-Néel’s “Magic and Mystery in Tibet.” She wrote that Tibetan monks created tulpas as a spiritual discipline during intense meditation. The Internet has been a boon for tulpa practice, with dozens of sites with instructions on creating one…” via Conjuring Up Our Own Gods – NYTimes.com
Despite my own sense of certainty that Gaia is there, very directly observable in the actual living of life, the very fabric of being, and the touch of the wind on my face, I felt silly and juvenile when reading this article. “Oh…” I thought, “perhaps what I’ve been doing with this year-long woodspriestess experiment is merely cementing my relationship with my imaginary friend?” So, I went back to the woods and I waited. And, an answer came:
I think not
I am the ebb and pulse of all existence
of all life
the invisible web
weaving its way
throughout you and around you every day
I am here in the call of that crow
the hammer of that woodpecker
the bird song
the leaf fall
the raindrop’s skim
I am present in the very pulse of your heart
That is it.
That magic of creation
She who holds eternity
and can never be tamed.
I’m reaching back
Never doubt this again.
After a pause, sitting there, keeping contact with the rock, listening to the sounds around me and feeling my pulse beat in my wrist, I spoke again:
The sensation of being held is real
the sensation of being known is real
the love you have experienced in my embrace is real
your body sitting on this rock and being in contact with this planet is real.
I am Life itself.
I am Breath itself.
I am Gaia.
And your heart beats in time with mine.
I called your name.
Listen and you will know…
I still hesitate to claim that I write poetry and I do not particularly think of myself as “poet.” These words are something that just comes out. Something that emerges. Something that is created in a very different manner than the rest of my writing. It actually feels like an altered state of consciousness that “writes itself” and when I go back to listen to what I said, I’m often surprised or feel like I’m listening to someone else speak. That’s theapoetics. Go sit in the woods and see what happens when you open your mouth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Molly is a priestess, writer, birth educator, and activist who lives with her husband and children in central Missouri. She is a breastfeeding counselor, a professor of human services, and doctoral student in women’s spirituality at Ocean Seminary College. Molly and her husband are in the process of launching Brigid’s Grove: http://brigidsgrove.com and she blogs about theapoetics, ecopsychology, and the Goddess at http://goddesspriestess.com.