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 🙂

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 🙂

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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

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

The Crone’s Eyes … and My Tummy …

Last night was our Sacred Essence Evening – and ah! I slept so well afterwards. Better than I have in ages. Melissa’s yoga and chakra balancing meditation was so soothing and healing for my body, the story was a fascinating modern fairytale and the needle felting (and the conversation that goes along with it) was a wonderful creative meditation too.

The story I told is called The Crone’s Eyes. You can find it within a book I highly recommend reading: The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton (published by Allen and Unwin, 2008). I have been trying to choose stories that sit with you for a while, revealing layers of meaning the longer you ponder them. I just love the way I can tell a story in the circle, and each woman gains something different from it – often a perspective I had not considered will arise.

When we read stories to ourselves, we create meaning by associating the events of the story, and the feelings of the protagonists, to our own experiences. I am not saying you will LOVE The Crone’s Eyes, as perhaps you may not be able to relate to it, but I am pretty certain that everyone can find a deeper meaning in this particular story. I planned to tell this story about a month ago, but it wasn’t until the day before our circle that I really understood why it came to me. This often happens to me a few days before I am due to publicly tell a story!

To me, this particular story highlighted how much there is in front of us that we do not see – and that we do not need to rely on our vision to see it!

My message came in loud and clear the other evening when an acute bout of abdominal pain (that was quickly and lovingly treated by my midwife) gave me an ultimatum: listen to your body or your body will protest!

Yes, I have been ignoring those little whispers of intuition for some time. It is mostly connected with food. When I reach for particular foods there is a ‘twinge’ or a hesitation deep within me, and sometimes I can even feel my lungs wince as I touch the food, or even when I think of it … and yet I will continue and happily munch away. Yum.

Well my digestive organs had the last word and now not only may I not eat the foods I KNOW I should avoid … there seems to be a whole lot more on the list now too! So here is my opportunity for some creative gluten-, dairy-, nightshade-, soy-free cooking! There are a few more miscellaneous foods on the list, and a couple of items I should even avoid touching at the moment.

Time to embrace brown rice and develop a taste for buckwheat 🙂

I had fun today giving myself little tests – reaching for, or even just thinking about, items of food and seeing how I react inside. Sure enough that my body told me what was what. My lungs screamed loudly as I reached for the cheese (I love cheese!) and a pain in my side reappeared when I thought about the delicious bread I had been making for my family for a while.

I’ve been on this eating regime before – not as severe as it is currently – and I remember feeling sooo good and almost entirely ridding myself of any traces of asthma. I’m looking forward to being in that place of health again, and looking forward to the challenge of being creative with my cooking.

We really do rely upon our eyes for evidence and fact, don’t we? But sometimes we can look and look in front of us, and the thing we are looking for just IS NOT THERE until someone else points it out to us … in the most obvious place. What has been dancing about before you that you simply cannot see with your eyes?

Sacred Essence this Monday

A Sacred Essence night is happening again this coming Monday evening:

Come to Sacred Essence!


Melissa will stretch, energise and revitalise our connections with our body and inner self through yoga and meditation.

I take you on a journey searching for “The crone’s eyes”….while (for a change!) you are the one who relaxes and listens. It is not a traditional tale but is very well written, as if it is a centuries old fairy story and is full of deeper meaning for each of us. I was captivated when I came across it.

Crone

And finally, we will end the night creatively with a bit of needle felting to bring our experiences together in a healing, nourishing, pictorial way.

I”m looking forward to it! There is something for the mind, body and the spirit.

There are lots of ways to nourish creativity in your life.

Monday 8th March, 7pm sharp – 9:30pm

Moonlight Prep Room

Silkwood School, 39 Shepherd’s Hill Lane, Mt Nathan

$20 for the evening or $45 for three sessions.

All welcome

0401442455 for bookings

My Nightingale Song

During a meditation following the story of The Apple Pip Princess (by Jane Ray), at our most recent women’s circle, I was filled from the tips of my hair to the ends of my toes with nightingale song. I didn’t hear actual notes, but instead experienced a sense that my humble body was singing most beautifully, and that it was singing my own song. I am getting better at allowing images and sensations to fill me during meditations, and I quite enjoyed this one!

I’ve been quite taken with the idea of nightingale song since then, and I’m quite curious about this bird. We hear about it in stories, in mythology, as a bird who sings mournfully to lovers or lost ones in the evening. Music so beautiful it hurts your soul to hear it.

That nightingale, who now melodious mourns 
Perhaps his children or his consort dear, 
The heavens with sweetness fills; the distant bourns 
Resound his notes, so piteous and so clear;
With me all night he weeps. . .

(by Petrarch)

But have you heard a Nightingale, or know what it looks like? I imagined a beautiful bird in shining blue plumage (for some reason!), but these little birds are plain brown and white, like a thrush. I found a nightingale call, you can listen to it here.

“Chew-chew chew-chew” and higher still,

“Cheer-cheer cheer-cheer” more loud and shrill,

“Cheer-up cheer-up cheer-up”—and dropped

Low—”Tweet tweet jug jug jug”—and stopped

One moment just to drink the sound

Her music made, and then a round

Of stranger witching notes was heard

As if it was a stranger bird:

“Wew-wew wew-wew chur-chur chur-chur

Woo-it woo-it”—could this be her?

“Tee-rew tee-rew tee-rew tee-rew

Chew-rit chew-rit”—and ever new—

“Will-will will-will grig-grig grig-grig.”

(Author unknown)


We have beautiful singing birds here in Australia, and if I were to equate my experience of the Nightingale to a Southern Hemisphere counterpart, I would suggest the Noisy Friarbird …

… who is not only a very plain bird, but also a very ugly one! I have always been astounded that such an unremarkable bird could sound so beautiful. Maybe it is only beautiful to me … here you can listen to it – a fairly average sample of its call , and it is decribed as dischordant! Not to my ears.

And so to return to the discussion of my experience during the meditation, I experienced this ‘nightingale song’ as MY song … my truth, my essence. It was an experience that made me realise how very important my own voice is, even if what I have to say isn’t something that other people are prepared to hear … like the Noisy Friarbird. There are times among family, friends and the community when we feel compelled to agree with others for the sake of keeping peace, or to make others happy, or to make ourselves happy, or because we may not yet be brave enough to disagree, or at least to present another viewpoint.

In those times we are not listening to our Nightingale song, and in fact we are not even letting it sing. What a difference people see in you when you can hear your own inner essence! What a strength you reveal about yourself, what challenges you can overcome when you really really hear your own truth. And what courage it takes to speak it.

But more often than not the strength it takes to summon this courage is worth it in comparison to the sinking, queezy feeling one experiences when one realises that they have found themselves not listening to their inner voice, and agreeing with others for reasons not true to their own heart’s song.

At the 2009 Goddess Conference I found myself amongst women in the flame of truth, for our Opening Ceremony. Together with four other flames we each sang our own song until all our songs mixed together to make the most beautiful harmony – music of the universe, of the inner sacred woman. This was my song:

I speak with Truth

With Truth I belong

In Truth I sing my

Woman’s heart song …

 

 

Sacred Women’s Circle : Essence

Melissa has written a beautiful post about our most recent sacred women’s circle. There isn’t much more I can add, except perhaps to post later on some of the thoughts that have begun developing since our evening. Head over to Real Life Dreaming and have a read about how we used the story of the Apple Pip Princess by Jane Ray to explore our own inner essence. Melissa has also posted the words to her latest song that came to her in inspiration for this evening we spent together.

Peace in our Imperfection

Our 4th Women’s Circle is to be held next week:

This circle will be light-hearted and peaceful, with the sharing of a very beautiful and uplifting tale, and the exploration of another beautiful moment in water colour … in peace and joy, as befits the season.

You are very welcome to attend, please let me know if you are able to.

Melissa and I look forward to seeing you there:

Monday 11th January

7 – 10pm

SIlkwood Steiner School Prep Room

$5.00

 

Updated Workshops Page

Hello friends,

I have updated the Workshops and Celebrant listing on this website, please take moment to have a look at what I have to offer in 2010.

I no longer run scheduled workshops, but will happily arrange singular or group workshops and felting parties for anyone who is interested in learning the art of felt-making and waldorf doll-making. All you need to do is contact me via the CONTACT button at the top of this website.

Blessings to you for a peaceful and prosperous 2010,

Jennifer

Nourishing Nurturing Time …

Last night’s women’s circle was all about nurturing ourselves. I told the story of Rumplestiltskin and related it to the function of our livers … yes an unusual interpretation I realise, but I will post more on this another day.

After a session where we massaged each other’s arms lovingly with sphagni oil (which I will also describe in another post!) we then spent a little time considering how we would nurture ourselves over the next month.

And from that experience arose this poem:

 

A Little Time Alone

By Jennifer McCormack

I’ll spend a little time alone with myself

I’ll spend a little time alone,

To recall all the strengths that I”ve gained in myself

To recall how much I have grown.

To recall, without surprise, the fact I am loved

By more than my family.

I am surrounded in wisdom and practical help

From many who also love me.

To remember the thanks from my family and friends

For the gifts I have freely shared.

To remember, with humour and wisdom, the times

When my emotions were publicly bared,

And the gifts that came flooding back in those times

Threefold from the ones I have given.

I’ll spend a little time alone with myself

And be, in my own heart, forgiven

 

Peaceful Priestess