Sacred Moments, Sacred Families

20121231_144825I have to tell you about this awesome course – yes it is one of my mine ūüôā At least, I am one half of this course. Melissa and I have been writing this and living this for well over a year together. We made it come alive last year at Silkwood and now offer it in bite-sized chunks, because we know every family has different needs.

Sacred Moments is a parenting course offered on the Gold Coast as a monthly playgroup¬†at Nerang, a monthly evening discussion group at Finger Prints Children’s Centre, and as the Effective Parenting Weekend at Silkwood School, on the Gold Coast. We are currently working on offering it as an e-course for those who live further away. What will you gain from the Sacred Moments Parenting Journey?

This course offers a framework and skills to support your decision-making as parents. Parenthood is a unique experience for each of us.  Sometimes we experience parenthood as a gift, while other times (even on the same morning), we can feel totally swamped and want to escape all our responsibilities.  This course is designed to help you equip yourself, as an individual, for the occasionally wild ride of parenting, to help you feel more prepared as a parent, better nourished, and a whole lot more inspired to be creative about your parenting so that you can enjoy the journey.

You will gain the skills to discover, honour and support your own pathway as a family. This course presents family life as a shared experience between parents and children, based on the understanding that there is no ‚Äėright way‚Äô to be a parent or a family unit, and no magic answer that will fix each and every family dilemma. The process of parenting is a rich, deep and dynamic process that allows us to be present with, honour and ENJOY all that life with children has to teach us.

You will gain a framework to support and ease your everyday family experiences. The framework we are presenting may even help to dissolve those tricky and exasperating moments before they become a big problem, negating the need to find that ‚Äėquick fix‚Äô solution. It will allow you to plan ahead, creating wonderful memories together and smoothing the ruffles in family life as you go.

You will learn techniques to review and reflect upon your parenting experiences while you are parenting on-the-go. You learn how to be present to your parenting and monitor your own effectiveness in the present moment. The ability to reflect with clarity is key to the process we are presenting. It will assist your own personal learning and help you in knowing when it is time to seek more information, more support or use other professional services. These techniques will also help you work through experiences of guilt and anger in a manner that honours your experience and your learning.www.

You will gain a support network of parents. For those attending Sacred Moments Parent Child Group it is anticipated that as we work through this course together and share our experiences that we will emerge as a group of parents able to support one another positively through the processes of family life when needed.

To find out more, email us at mj@liveyoursacredessence.com

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Live Your Sacred Essence

Lavendilly is my work at home: where I live and play with my family and friends. At Lavendilly we celebrate all the goodness that makes our life interesting, colourful, spicy and beautiful. Food, play, creative projects, poetry and stories! The other side of my work is my work in community, and that is SACRED ESSENCE.

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Sacred Essence has been going for about three years now. Melissa Joss and I have been working with women in our community, providing a place for women to be in the moment – a challenge in particular for mothers! We benefit from these circles as much as anyone else does, and it has become our heart’s work.

Our passion for Sacred Essence has never waned, but our time and energy did when Melissa and I both had babies in late 2010, so for a while our energies were often diverted into parenting and loving our little families. Our little girls are now both two years of age, and we are both feeling a resurgence of enthusiasm, passion and ambition for our work. We’ve been working hard over Summer¬†(and when you’ve got all kids home on school holidays any kind of work is hard!) and we’ve made ourselves a new website, written a new mission statement and have all our projects for the year planned out. It feels great!

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We are kicking the year off with our Open Day Circle and our Hand-Felted Journal Cover Workshop. Look what I made! I love this journal cover! It fits an A4 book just perfectly, and I spent a few happy hours sitting in the sunshine embroidering it. It is going to be a free gift in our competition, which will be announced very soon. Also you can win a free booking to the Workshop so you can make your own.

Go and have a look at our Sacred Essence website! There’s lots in there … and keep watching here, or on our Sacred Essence facebook page for more information about how you can win the journal cover or the booking to make your own felted book cover. We’ll also be offering the instructions on-line so you can make one even if you don’t live on the Gold Coast.

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Running to the Sun: A Meditation for Setting Goals

Our January Sacred Essence Circle held the space for visioning for the coming year. It was another beautiful circle, but I found that two hours wasn’t enough time for my plans to fully unfold in a way that I could grasp and use. It did, however provide the inspiration for more exploration – and that is what Sacred Essence is about. I had the luck to have been gifted a weekend at a farm-stay house at Springbrook (I will write more about this later!) and I stayed there alone for the first night. In the space that unfolded I revisited the meditation we moved through during our circle and then I wrote and wrote and wrote. I imagined myself at the end of this year and wrote in present tense about what I have achieved. I wrote about relationships, work, family, parenting, creativity, spirituality, health, relaxation. The things I wrote really surprised me, and I emerged from this period feeling very very excited indeed ūüôā
Now I’m refining the vision I wrote, and putting it on the calendar. Then it is a matter of making small goals each month to ensure I’m moving forward.I see no point in having a vision if I don’t have a means of¬†achieving¬†it. Having said that, in the week that has followed this visioning process there have been a few wonderful opportunities I hadn’t even considered just appear out of the blue. Wonderful what happens when you make the space for it.
I’d love share how it all began – with the meditation from our Circle:
RUNNING TO THE SUN,
written by Jennifer McCormack and Melissa Joss, January 2012

You are a mother in a Navaho community and you are laying in your bed. It is early and no one else is stirring. The dawn light is heralded by the morning birds, at first in a soft whisper, and you lay under your covers thinking about the day ahead.

You’ve woken with a list of all your responsibilities for the day running through your head. It seems at times that your days are merely a portion of time offered to you for these responsibilities to be addressed, and that there must be more time on offer to do the other things you want. There is a list of those too, but there doesn’t always seem to be the¬†opportunity¬†to achieve them. These are¬†things that don’t ‘need’ to be done for daily existence, but things that will fulfill you and excite you, things that will support your own wellbeing, and things that will benefit your family and community.¬†


In the past you’ve made promises to yourself about becoming a bigger voice in your community, about being a great example to your sisters, about enjoying more of your daily life and learning new ideas and skills. It seems though, each year you have made these promises the early excitement of the ideas fade, and the ability to commit feels harder as time goes by and in the end your days unfold just as they always have.

Not this time. Suddenly you cannot lay in bed dreaming of things to be any more. You rise and open the door to your family home, walking outside in your bare feet. Standing there in the middle of your community you seek the Great Mother with a ritual, greeting her and asking for her guidance.

Walking around silently you are aware of the earth beneath your feet. You sink down and dig your fingers into the earth. This is the soil in which you have used your hands to work,¬†fertilize, and plant seeds for future harvests. The earth now whispers to you:”Why are you not planting the seeds of the promises you have made to yourself? Your ideas and desires could grow into something bigger that will nourish us all!”

You crouch by the stream for a drink and she¬†whispers¬†to you: “Why do you resist the flow of creativity? Be open to change and the obstacles that lie in your way will be easy to pass!”

Rising now, you stretch your body slowly and feel the strength in your limbs. Likewise the green forest branches around wave at you and their leaves speak: “You have strength in your roots and from strong foundations great things can grow. Trust in your ability to transform the light into beauty and nourishment.”

The morning birds who were so contentedly and quietly talking about the day ahead sense your determination and call in earnest to you: :”Run to your dreams, catch them and make them real in your hands!”

And so you run. Slowly at first, and then you feel the strength in your limbs, and the determination in your heart to reach your dreams powers you towards the sun, that is now beginning to rise. You run through the green forest, keeping the day’s quiet soft sun in your sights and moving easily around the obstacles in your path. You run until you leave the forest and are now on the grassy plains. You run until the morning sun grow strong and bright in the sky and you can feel the first rays of warmth.

And then you stop.


You stretch out your arms towards the sun and pull the rays into you. Strings of solar energy filling you with inspiration to get things started, wisdom to plan the way forward, strength to keep moving, resilience to step over obstacles … your body is glowing as you pull the rays of light and warmth into and around your body and you stand there, arms outstretched, absorbing all the solar energy the sun has to offer …

…gradually you feel filled. You have run towards the sun, and now filled with solar energy you must walk towards your dreams and each step takes you closer.¬†The promises you have made to yourself for this year have formed clearly in your mind and as you turn to face the direction you came from you see the path before you unfold. You can see that each part of the way presents a different part of the journey towards achieving your dreams. Every step takes you closer. You can clearly see your path and, taking a breath, you take your first step.

A Mother’s Meditation

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I find meditation quite a challenge. Before children came into my life I never truly appreciated the moments of stillness that you can cultivate by sitting for a moment and just breathing.

Now I am an opportunistic meditator. I take it as it comes and delight in the free gifts of time that are handed to me. The wee hours of the morning (like right now Р3:30 am!) when my little one has woken me up (or when the rooster decides the day has started  Рor both) and my brain kicks into gear. Sleep is usually all over for me at this point so why waste time tossing about in bed? I also  make wonderful use of the moments I spend in the car with two sleeping girls in the back while I am waiting to pick up my school boy. My craft, too, is an act of meditation. Rolling large pieces of felt is a repetitive task that lends itself well to letting your mind drift off into peaceful thoughts.

Anything tedious and repetitive is an opportunity to meditate! Stacking the dishwasher, hanging out the washing, mopping the floors … all wonderful opportunities to let your negative thoughts go and cultivate some light in the rhythm of your heart and your breath. And of course the plus side is that if you are meditating while doing housework your home benefits from all the love ūüôā

I¬†once had such a profoundly beautiful experience meditating with plants and I thank Ashra from MoonTree for this gift. Ashra was hosting a seasonal women’s festival day and I went along, for I was in such need of women’s company, and a whole day of spiritual nourishment. Ashra offered us her garden and we sat together and drank in the garden, growing living imaginings of the plants within us and listening to their stories. We sat together in front of a magnificent Grevillea plant and just appreciated it for the beautiful being it is.

It was that simple. We began admiring the plant, looking at it softly, breathing it in, asking if we could join it. Looking at it with love and openness before closing our eyes and continuing to see it in the same way within our hearts. We repeated this process, until before I knew it I was on that plant, a part of the spindly ends of the Grevillea leaf.

I was on the branch and just watching the plant and animal life do their things around me, and what I noticed most of all was the rhythms. Flowers budded, blossomed brilliantly, drooped and died. Leaves budded, unfurled and grew strong and green. Each plant with its own green, its own flower, doing it’s thing in its own time. Insects came, worked, shared, chatted and left. Birds fed from the flowers, called and sang and left. The plants around me grew, changed size, changed colour, flowered, fruited …like I was watching the world continue in time-lapse photography, but like a beautiful dance where each being¬†knew what it had to do and did it because that was what it was supposed to to. Each living being did their thing, lived their rhythm, and did it dutifully and beautifully.

It was a gentle and gradual return to my physical presence. I became very aware of how stuck I felt at that point in time in my own physical existence. Of how I had been living my rhythm dutifully, but not beautifully. Going about my own daily life with resigned detachment at times, resentfulness at other times. Bitterness about how tired and hard-done-by I felt. Unappreciated.

I always talk about the importance of rhythm for children and parents, and most of the time I am pretty good at moving in a mindful and beautiful rhythm through our days and weeks – but the very nature of being human means we must experience contrast … and through this experience my RHYTHM had become a ROUTINE. ¬†I was stuck in a cycle and the lack of beauty in the way I was moving through my life was hurting me. I was losing sleep, thinking bitter thoughts, suffering eczema, over reacting with the people I live with. The Grevillea had shared a moment of its life with me and reminded me that life goes on around me in a beautiful way, regardless of what I am experiencing now.

Through this meditation I experienced such a sense of peace and purpose. It happened at the same time I began the GAPS diet, at a time when I have really needed some focused healing. When Melissa, the ther half of Sacred Essence, collected some astoundingly beautiful Grevillea flowers for our circle the next night, I just had to share my experience with her. That evening Melissa led us through another meditative imagining with the plants and I was right back there. Melissa uses Australian Flower Essences in her therapeutic work Рand phoned me the next day to let me know that Red Grevillea is a treatment plant for that feeling of being stuck Рand also beneficial for eczema! I feel strongly that I connected with that healing during the meditation.

So¬†it was a beautiful reminder to cultivate my daily life as a dutiful and beautiful dance, I am always looking out the window, or wandering outside, and although sometimes the opportunity to sit still eludes me in my busy days, I use those moments of otherwise ‘tedious’ work to reconnect with that experience, or to take a new plant into my heart and appreciate them for their story.

Living in Inspiration

I feel a bit like a neglectful mother – and this blog is my poor neglected child! I’ve missed you lavendilly!

I’ve been busy¬†lavishing¬†my attention over at Sacred Essence – a place that is currently the wellspring of inspiration for Melissa and I. We are taking our women’s circles to a new level and providing resources through our blog so that women who cannot attend our circles can share in the growth and expansion that happens as a result of all this inner work we are doing together. Another bonus is for women who were¬†able to attend will also be able to continue feeding their inspirations until the next circle, so in the meantime they can have a play with the ideas and projects we began, and together we may return to the next circle ready to expand a little more!

You can find on our blog a copy of the story Sir Gawain and the Loathely Lady, along with an interpretation and a record of our experience with that story, also a beautiful prayer to Self that we adapted from one written by Marianne Williamson, and a little about our beautiful crowns we made.

Our return to circles this year happened last week and I’ve been buzzing ever since. I invite you to pop over to Sacred Essence to read about what we are doing together – and in a moment I will be putting up a post on how we made our beautiful crowns so that you can make one to! Just keep checking back … the post is written …. but the camera isn’t being cooperative and doesn’t want to take any photos for me ūüôā

In a shameless attempt at self-promotion, we have the opportunity for you to follow our Sacred Essence blog via email – and we are also on Facebook, as I cannot seem to wean myself from this very convenient form of connection with other people – I might as well use it for some good purpose! We’d really love to share our experiences with you, and would love your feedback also. If you would like to attend our next circle it will be on MONDAY 9TH MAY at 7pm – straight after Mothers Day …. can you guess the theme for our next circle??? haha! That’s right! We will be celebrating motherhood!

In the meantime I have something exciting to share with you about recent experiences with children’s behaviour at home … and strangely (and totally co-incidentally) this came up in conversation during our last circle too! So my next post here will describe the activities of my own gallant knight, Sir Kaelan and his chivalrous deeds.

Sacred Essence: Silk Painting Meditation

Last night during our Sacred Essence evening we worked with the theme of Intention. Melissa is having her babymoon, after the arrival of her little one two weeks ago and little Linden is very happy to stay at home with her daddy in the evenings and help her brother and sister go to bed so I was also well and truly flying solo last night.

We had three activities last night as part of our observance of the Intention theme. I want to write about each of them so that you may be able to share in the experience. It is too much for one blog … already I’ve written this post and have realised that I will need to break it into three parts. So the first part I will share with you was our silk painting meditation.

We began our evening with our artistic activity first last night. A change in the usual program, but necessary as the venue we use has had a change in the security system they use. The lights are automatically switched off at 8pm! So we did the work we needed light for first. The rest of the program we pretty much spend with our eyes closed either listening to a story or in meditation/reflection so lights were not needed and candle light was perfect ūüôā

Our artistic exploration was silk painting last night. I sourced some beautiful hand-rolled habutai handkerchief silks, which we painted while wet. The purpose of the activity was not an exploration of colour or form. It was not an activity to purposefully create something beautiful, but to let go of all of those expectations and concentrate on the activity itself: to reflect upon how the activity feels so that we can bring awareness to our bodies and watch our bodies create something beautiful of their own accord. When we are aligned and peaceful in our energy and our thoughts then our bodies respond naturally in beautiful and harmonious movements. So I asked the participants to sit for a moment, making themselves comfortable and think of the following things as they worked:

How are we sitting in our chairs? Are our bodies comfortable? Is there any part of us that needs to be shifted, relaxed, straightened, in order to feel like we are sitting in a way that makes us feel alert and happy?

How do our bodies move as we begin painting? How does the brush feel in your hand? How softly can you hold it, and still control it? What does the brush do when you dip it into the water? How does the water respond?

When you choose your colour, how does the brush and colour meet and join? How then do they part as the colour is applied to the wet silk? How does the silk greet the colour as your brush moves over it? What happens when the salt is sprinkled over the colour?

It was challenging to let go of form and transform the experience into a meditation. I struggled with it myself as I was painting during the session. In fact I ended up crumpling the silk in my hands, not because I was unhappy with my efforts (which was not the purpose) but because I felt it would help me to let go of the form I had made. Applying salt to silk dye on wet silk changes everything you’ve done to it also: it draws the colour out of the silk, forming rivers of no colour, and concentrated spots of intense colour. Our silks were beautiful. I would have liked to spend more time on it, but I was conscious of being able to clear up before the lights went out!!

Such¬†worldly¬†interruptions to matters of spirit ūüôā

October Sacred Essence

Sacred Essence Women’s Circles have been offered monthly over the last year. They are a time and place where women can take a moment to slow down, to breathe, to take comfort in each other’s company and explore healing ways to be whole.

Sacred Essence offers a variety of modalities to explore and express women’s healing: meditation, yoga, breathing, ceremony, craft, song, dance and artwork. It is a deeply peaceful place to unfold¬†in the safe embrace of sisterhood.

Sacred Essence took a break this month while both Melissa and I have been distracted by baby business (no news from Melissa yet but very close!). October Sacred Essence will follow the theme of Intention and how we can focus our intentions to reflect and vibrate with our inner core of beauty. The world is a beautiful place! Let’s create that together again and again and again … In this coming circle I will be sharing my favourite fairy tale of all time (one that nearly made it into our wedding ceremony as part of our vows!) and also we will be silk-painting a sacred altar cloth!

Come and play!

Monday October 4th, 7:30 – 9:30pm,
$20 per session or $45 for three sessions

Moonlight Prep Room, Silkwood School

39 Shepherd Hill Lane, Mt Nathan

RSVP to jennifer@ceremonieswithspirit.com
Please RSVP by 1st October so that I can plan for adequate craft materials.
Please share this link with your fellow womyn. All are welcome.

Blessings, Jennifer

June Sacred Essence Circle: Clarity revisited!

Last month, as a response to the outcome of our previous circle about gratitude in April, Sacred Essence explored the idea of clarity. We all felt we needed some!

It was a beautiful and very inspiring evening, however due illness we needed to change the date at the last-minute, and many who wished they could attend did not have the opportunity to do so.

Clarity returns to Sacred Essence this month. Let me give you a run through: the story will be about the essence within ourselves, our ability to see clearly our thoughts, ideas, visions, goals. After exploring these qualities in the story of an ancient Roman Goddess, we move into a focussed yoga series designed to help our body know what it FEELS like to see a goal clearly, to aim for it, and fire ourselves towards it!

Our meditation will help us to identify what is blocking our sense of clarity, and the follow-up creative activity of mandala-drawing will see us creating our own ‘target board’, a visual reminder of how to clear those blockages, how to access our intuition and how to keep our visions clearly in focus.

Here is a testimonial from a participant. (I’ve edited it a little to preserve her privacy around this issue.) Melissa and I merely facilitate these evenings – it gives me big warm fuzzies to know that our participants are inspired to continue accessing and developing their own inner guidance.

I just wanted to say thankyou for last Monday night, and to let you know what has arisen from it.¬† You may have gathered I have been having some inner conflict with my “tree”. There must have been a huge inner shift of energy because I came home to a completely different energy, and it has continued since…so thankyou again, I felt like I received a lot from you both.

Do you  need some clarity?

Sacred Essence

Silkwood School, Moonlight Prep Room

39 Shepherd Hill Lane, Mt Nathan, Gold Coast

7pm start – 9:30

$20 per session or $45 for three sessions

Monday 14th June (Queen’s Birthday public holiday)

RSVP to Jennifer McCormack (jennifer@ceremonieswithspirit.com)

… and some good news … Melissa and I enjoy these circles too much. We benefit from them ourselves, and find lots of healing in planning and facilitating these circles for you. My baby is due very soon, and Melissa’s soon after that. The plan is to continue the circles … somehow, we will work it out as we go along …

Sacred Essence in Clarity!

We held our delayed May Sacred Essence Circle last Monday night. The theme for the evening was CLARITY.

This was a beautiful circle, with the usual storytelling, some very invigorating yoga with Melissa, a meditation that helped to CLEAR OBSTRUCTIONS so that we can ACCESS our vision, intuition, divine guidance … with clarity, and all rounded up with a creative excercise in drawing our own personal target board – in mandala form.

Would you like to be¬†a part of this circle? We so enjoyed this one that we are presenting it again on the second Monday of June. It may be my last circle before my baby comes … I’m hoping to squeeze in a July one but we’ll just have to wait and see!

After that Melissa will carry on until I am able to join her again, then I will take over when HER baby comes! We’ll be tag-teaming for a while, but Sacred Essence will continue … we are enjoying these circles for the healing it gives us, for the contact with wonderful women and the good feeling of spreading a little sacredness in our community.

Please join us at our next circle!!

April Sacred Essence

The cycle of the year has turned again

In autumn we prepare to turn within

It’s time to heed the call of Harvest Queen

And take stock of your crops and your blessings

Demeter, Mother of the Fertile Fields

Abundance of your food and wealth you yield

And in return we offer up to you

A count of our own blessings we made true

Many are the things we have achieved

From this success we save some special seeds

A plan for future projects and ideas

Grown from past joys and also from past fears

An honest look at all that we have learned

A celebration of the gifts we’ve earned

For well we know the surest way to wealth

It is the cultivation of one’s self

Poetry written by and copyright to Jennifer McCormack 2010

It is Sacred Essence Circle time again … this time we are Harvest Queens – be prepared to celebrate your Self and count your many many blessings in story, yoga, ritual, and craft.

This Circle we make an item that will make sure you never forget what a wonderful gift you are to the world!

You will need to bring with you a beautiful bead to give as a gift, and your yoga mat.

All women welcome:

Monday April 12

Silkwood Moonlight Prep Room

Shepherds Hill Lane, Mt Nathan, Gold Coast

7:00pm – 9:30pm

$20 per session or $45 for three sessions