The Snail Priestess

I am deeply grateful to Chani Nicholas for the following incantation, which speaks so directly and clearly to my current focus. I seek to embody the pace of the snail. My energy is slow and purposeful, not rushed or urgent. It’s focused on the breath moving inside my body, always in awareness with the ground, feeling the Earth.


Virgo

I break the spells that keep me busy doing nothing. My time is sacred so I keep a watchful eye on it. I break the spells that keep me wasting energy where I don’t need to. I use the space in my days to work on my skills of constructive daydreaming. Giving myself some time and space to just be can be revolutionary. I use this new moon to break the spells that have me thinking in the same way about a problem, opportunity or situation. I use this new moon to refresh my way of seeing what I am looking at.

I am dedicated to seeing solutions.

If I can worry about my problems, then I can imagine their solutions. I can conjure up the understanding, the strategy and the wisdom needed to find my way around anything that life throws at me.

This week offers me a unique opportunity to benefit from my commitments. Especially the ones that I make to my home, family and healing my relationships with parents and childhood issues. No magic is made without a serious commitment to the elements that I work with. This new moon can help me to see that I have all the ingredients that I need to make a stable, sound, solid place to land, root down and grow from. This new moon can help me to see how much easier healing can be when I am willing to meet my life where it is.

snails

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The Origin of All Things

Meditation awareness: Inside my pelvis there is a portal to primordial space, the origin of all things. I feel gravity and allow it to pull me down toward the portal. It is my cervix. And on the other side is spaciousness, creativity, possibility. My womb is an ocean of space and it holds awareness of the infinite.

I use my awareness to seek this point and embody it. I come back to it over and over with my breath, with focus, with my mind’s eye. I imagine the portal’s heat and pressure, how it burns when opened. I practice inhaling my breath from the womb space, through my cervix, and then exhaling my breath back into the space.

I imagine my lips gently making contact with my cervix as the breath moves into and out of my body. I imagine exhaling hot, moist air into the rich compost that makes up the origin of all things. The blood-rich pocket deep inside my body that creates life.

I inhale from the origin that is my womb, and my lungs are filled. I exhale into the origin and my lungs are emptied. I am a recursive bellows, simultaneously breathing into and out of my own body with each breath. I attempt to follow my breath into the space so that I may feel its vastness, so that I can be surrounded by space that is aware of itself.

I inhale from and exhale into a space in my body that I am aware of at only the most primal and cosmic level. The origin of all things.

origin-of-all-things

Olly Olly Oxen Free

You know the bittersweet feeling that comes from being an Awesome Hider? You’ve found this great spot and you fit inside perfectly and you’re concealed so well you may as well be invisible. You can hear your It-friend walking by and they don’t even get a whiff of your presence. You feel so proud because you’ve found a Great Hiding Spot.

After a while, you can hear more, and then all of your friends running back and forth, yelling for you, but they can’t find you. And you get a thrill down your spine because you’ve actually found The Best Hiding Spot. You want to see how long it takes them to find you. So you stay put and breath through your mouth, and don’t dare to move.an.inch.

And then it gets really quiet. You can’t hear your friends anymore. And you wonder where they’ve gone. They wouldn’t stop looking without telling you…would they?

And the longer you sit there, pondering this turn of events, the stranger it feels. Maybe you start to wonder whether you CAN be found. Maybe you disappeared. Maybe you aren’t real anymore. You realize that no one is going to find you here.

I’ve been hiding all my life. From monsters both real and imagined. From disappointment and failure. From other people’s emotional outbursts, manipulations, and fits. From pain and grief. I’ve created an internal life that’s perfectly suited to all my patterns and preferences. I’m well adapted to living inside my head. All. By. My. Self.

When I was 4 and then 14 and then 24 (and then 34), suffering through growing up, hating people for dozens of reasons, living inside my mind seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I learned how to perform normalcy, a semblance of happiness. But now I’m 44 and in a relationship with someone whose trying desperately to See Me. He wants to connect with me. Has wanted to do so for the eight years we’ve been together.

And I’ve come to realize that my perfect hiding spot is actually a prison. A prison that’s exactly the same size as my body. A Christina-shaped prison. I can’t move in here. It’s hard to take a full, deep breath. My solar plexus trembles when I do. I’m 500 feet down inside a cold, dark well and I can’t hear my friend’s voices anymore.

The more I use somatic, breathing meditations to grow my awareness, the more this becomes clear. My breath is forcing me to bump up against the walls of my prison. And it hurts. It hurts being this alone. Alone in the dark with my breath and my shame.

Because it’s shame that keeps me here. Shame who tells me it’s better to be “safe.” Better to remain hidden. Better not to try. Better not to breathe fully or lean into creativity. Better not to risk being seen. Don’t call attention to yourself. Don’t let them see you. They’ll eat you, rape you, kill you, hate you. The monster will find you.

Shame is the monster. And while I didn’t put it here, inside my body, down deep in the crevices of my chest and pelvis and heart; it’s my monster to battle. I’m the only one here. The only one who can climb up and out of this well.

I have to give up this hiding place. It isn’t actually safe here, isn’t healthy. I’m suffocating, smothered by my shame.

I found me. I’m right here, breathing. And I’m coming out.

I Didn’t Know

I didn’t know how numb I was. I didn’t know that my intuition and body were deadened from decades of abuse and disease.

I didn’t know that I was having one set of feelings in my head and another, completely different set in my body. That I’d been ignoring, devaluing, and medicating away my true feelings for so long, I no longer knew how to recognize, let alone feel them.

I didn’t know that it would require years of focused, intentional excavation to find the core of my self. I didn’t know how wounded I actually was. I didn’t know that once I found my core wounds and felt *everything* they had been saving for me, I would then be alive.

Actually alive. No longer afraid or anxious, but certain and filled with new purpose. Feeling all the parts of my body. Even the ones I didn’t know could be felt, like my toes and the tips of my labia. My urethral sponge.

I am now expressing and feeling my emotions throughout my entire body whenever they occur, simultaneously, in concert. Instead of stifling them or making them more appropriate for polite society. Instead of feeling scared and saying I’m not. Instead of lying.

This is what it means to “do the work.” To “reclaim one’s self.” This work takes a lot of practice. These new parts of mine are like any other muscle; they need to be worked often, felt often, seen and acknowledged, loved and cared for.

This is how it feels to be alive. This is tantra. This is holistic peer counseling. Reclamation, embodiment, felt truth. It’s all possible. Even if you don’t know it’s possible. It is.

Surrendering My Silence

On this, the longest night of the year, it is helpful to remember that we too are being called into our deepest dark. Down into the places we hide from view; where we store our grief, where we brace and hold, where we are ashamed and unforgiving too.

When we speak of the ‘returning of the light’ it isn’t just a grace that this threshold season provides, but the call to our own revealing. We are being asked to acknowledge our untruths, to surrender our silence, to bare our fragile stories in the open. These are the acts which connect the fabric of our lives to the whole of truthfulness.

Without proof, we trust that a way will be born then in the dark, out of nothing, by this braving forward. And we are rewarded with the dignity of a life which emboldens the poetry trapped in the silence of others, and tenderises us for a more articulated quality of love. — Toko-pa

What does it mean for me to have intentional sex?

To acknowledge and feel into my body’s authentic desire; I feel Her thrum deep beneath my skin, like a vibration coming up from the ground, an echo of things remembered.

To acknowledge that I’m bleeding; the fourth day, after the transition, when cramping discomfort and fluctuating emotions have given way to want, need, and heat. I can feel that Her fire is kindled, can hear its crackle.

To acknowledge it is the darkest day; the day when the veil is thinnest and the spirits are close, desirous of experience; my ancestral and child parts looking for release. It has been a year since he and I began this work of physical sovereignty.

I trust that I am a goddess of the Earth; my grounded trance experiences over the last year confirm it, my double Virgo-ness adds delightful corroboration, and my ever-developing masculine simply nods Hir head, gazing deeply into my third eye.

And so with this awareness, I stand in front of him and begin to breathe, planting my feet and feeling them slowly merge with the imagined soil beneath me as I open a channel. A channel that runs from my sacrum and yoni and womb; the combined energies of red goddess seeking connection with her sister, her lover and consort, her center.

We breathe together, he and I, as we sway from our centers and slowly writhe; hips forming an infinite cradle, noses inhaling one another’s breath, lips brushing one another’s face. Grounding down, opening out, connecting through his cock; bringing him with me to mingle in molten lava before coming back up and into Us.

Building desire building erotic building heat. And then I need his face in Her; now. Need and want his deep devoted attention to awaken Her fully, to call Her forth. His exquisite tongue and lips; they speak to and see Her in ways like no other, honor Her, coax Her, sing to Her.

Then begins my focused breath work. His face buried, my right hand on second chakra, my left hand on third, lovingly pressing; deep breath down and into my pelvic bowl, my awareness following. Breathing slowly breathing deeply breathing intentionally. Over and over and over.

I become aware that my third, second, and first chakras are now connected, aligned, an extension of one another forming the backbone of my psychic cock. I breathe into and hold gently tense the muscles surrounding that sinuous ridge. An inch underneath my skin I can feel Hir arise; the sacred androgyne.

From my gut through my womb down into my clit and out into the cosmos, Hir cock extends and unfurls, a flower, a sword, a tongue. Caressing his face and throat and lips, adoring his touch and devotion, penetrating flesh and seeking his deepest tender, raw place. Feeding and being fed.

I ask him, Does She feel like She’s ready for Him to fuck Her? Yes. Gooood; whenever you’re ready. Slowly slowly slowly he enters me, on top of me, bringing his bloody beard and mouth to press against mine. Yes; this is good; there is power in the blood, to kiss the blood acknowledges I accept its sacred power. That I’m not afraid.

More urgently, faster, harder. Surges of energy now coming up through Hir cock, filling my fourth chakra, bursting through the fifth. My pleasure requires a voice, demands a voice, it will not and cannot be silenced; She will be heard.

The Hitachi gives Her waves to ride; deep vibrations that pull Her up and out, they help me process what She has to say. The vibrations are the closest thing I have to match Her intensity; I intuitively match and mimic them, humming and growling and babbling, keeping pace. These are the scales and arpeggios that will allow me to sing Her song.

I’m scared and thrilled and filled with scalding waves of intense pleasure pain. I’m fighting to hold balance of attention with her song; the release that’s coming is ancestral and dark, unbridled and powerful, filled with rage and grief and elation. It burns and encompasses me.

I scream, Coming She’s Coming, and then I’m wailing sobbing gnashing laughing undulating. I’m channeling bloody anger and generations of grief, mixed with elated embodiment; She’s here I’m here She’s here I’m here! This body right now here in this moment. She’s here. I’m here. Tears of relief and gratitude and joy.

All the way up, all the way down; I am the Hierophant Reversed and all the Goddesses Elemental, and this pleasure is my right. I claim it with my sovereign authority and with my voice. The fifth chakra has awakened and I have surrendered my silence.

Imagine A Woman Who Honors Her Experience and Tells Her Stories

A friend introduced me to a beautiful poem this morning, one that so perfectly describes what I’m trying to do here by sharing my stories that I couldn’t not pass it on. It was written 20 years ago by Patricia Lynn Reilly, who later went on to found Imagine a Woman International, which:

Inspires women to journey from self-criticism to self-celebration and to refashion our beloved world by giving birth to images of inclusion, poems of truth, rituals of healing, experiences of transformation, relationships of equality, strategies of peace, institutions of justice, and households of compassion.

I want to be the woman she describes; in fact, I want to live in a world where all women get a chance to be the woman she describes. Let’s lean into trust, authenticity, and deep exploration, Sisters.

Imagine A Woman

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who trusts and respects herself.
A woman who listens to her needs and desires.
Who meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who acknowledges the past’s influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
Who has healed into the present.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs a personal spirituality to inform her daily life.

Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.

Imagine a woman who honors the body of the Goddess in her changing body.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use her life-energy disguising the changes in her body and life.

Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women.
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.

Imagine yourself as this woman.

“Imagine a Woman” © Patricia Lynn Reilly, 1995
http://www.imagineAwoman.com

On Death, Gender, and the Orgasm as a Performance of Femininity

I am now 44 years old. I am a mother and a head of household. I am past the age where people used to be generally considered “over the hill.” From a transition standpoint, this is significant for me personally because there’s only one generation remaining between me and mortality: the generation of my mother and her siblings. My next big generational shift will be to matriarch/crone. My mother’s will be to death.

My mother’s death isn’t imminent, but it is inevitable, and even though only in her early 60’s she has had a fair share of medical scares. Cancer. Stroke. Falls with broken bones. A choking incident that brought her dangerously close to asphyxiating if it hadn’t been for my stepfather finding and resuscitating her. All these events remind me of her mortality by keeping it in the peripheral vision of my mind’s eye. Watching. Waiting for each of us to advance another rung on the generational ladder.

On Day of the Dead, I set up an altar to the matriarchs in my family; I put my attention on my maternal great-grandmother, my maternal grandmother, and my mother. I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy the last four years talking about these women and the not-insignificant effects they had not only on me but each another. As an ancestral line, I can clearly see the traits handed down to me courtesy of them, some of which include strength, anxiety, determination, a high need for control, frugality, tenacity, and a deep sense of familial duty/sacrifice/obligation.

The altar is still intact and I continue to feel their presence, hear their voices. Even more strongly now than before—I think, because I’m calling out for their support and wisdom. Because I can feel myself beginning to prepare energetically and psychically for the death of my mother. Even if it’s only theoretical at this stage, as a planner who is finely attuned to transitions, doorways, and liminal spaces it’s a transformation that’s especially potent for me during this season of darkening.

What I’m feeling into right now is how the process of her dying will change the dynamic of our relatedness; how she will take on more child-like qualities and I will assume the more parental role. I see the possibility for me to support her more in the coming years; to take the skills I’ve learned through parenting Avery and re-parenting myself, and leveraging those to hold a more compassionate, patient space for her. After all, she has a high need for control just like I do and as she loses control over more of her self, I anticipate the need for a lot of patience on my end.

As if sitting with the impending death of my mother weren’t intense enough, it’s also bringing up older, deeper body memories for me. Because this isn’t the first time she and I have danced with power dynamics and leaned on one another for support.

Embodying the Masculine as a Girl Child

When I was 5 years old, my mother and I (and my 3-year-old sister) were in a pretty shitty situation. My sexually, physically, and emotionally abusive biological father had just left us for the last time because my mother stood up to him, and told him to get out and never come back. An act of strength and courage I have since thanked her for many times. An act that while freeing us from him, also left us in a position of needing to depend on one another more directly, more concretely.

Like many women who had been trapped by domestic abuse, she was literally at rock bottom; overwhelmed, exhausted, deeply wounded, and also needing to care for two small children. Even with the local support of her parents and brothers, it was still really hard at home. She needed me to be her “big girl,” to be strong and help her with baby Theresa when she got overwhelmed. She needed me to carry a lot more emotional and psychic weight than was appropriate given my age and equally vulnerable position.

I was naturally precocious in the ways of care-taking and helping; I was a sensitive, empathetic, deeply-feeling child from a long line of caretakers and emotional baggage handlers. And so, when my mother needed someone to be strong for her, someone she could count on to always be there and love her, I became a source of support, reliability, and certainty for her in a world that seemed bent on hurting her. She could talk to me, share her feelings, and cry about how much it hurt. She could count on me to be relatively independent, capable, and self reliant.

I believe that I embodied the masculine to protect her from falling deeper into dysfunction, to protect my primary source of security, safety, and love. And yet none of it could be acknowledged as such; it was an unconscious resonance between us. She wasn’t consciously awake enough to recognize what was happening and I was a little girl desperate to ensure Mommy wouldn’t abandon or stop loving me.

And so, in a sense, we became psychically married, she and I. Co-dependent. Enmeshed. Tied together because of the wounds the patriarchy and my father inflicted, and we jointly had to recover from. As a result, I have always felt responsible for her well-being; responsible to be a sturdy framework against which she could drape her tired, bruised limbs and cry.

Being Told to Put on the Girl Suit

At the same time, despite how masculine and grown-up I felt in the relationship with my mother, I was obviously in the body of a young girl. I knew I was a girl and I’ve never felt any confusion or disgust about that fact; it’s just that I’ve never been comfortable or confident in my ability to perform femininity. The world was telling me to put on the pink suit and its myriad complicated accouterments, but at home I was clearly wearing something that approximated the blue suit, at least in function. Thus began my internal dissonance around gender and society’s expectations in regard to it.

As a cis-female born in 1971 America and raised by a traditionally-valued family, I’ve been handed a lot of narrowly-defined programming about how I’m supposed to look, what I’m allowed to do, and how I should conduct myself. As an androgynous, 6-foot-tall, anxious, suspicious woman with an advanced case of “Resting Bitch Face,” I’ve had a damn hard time manifesting those programs in ways that convince people.

Aside from the fact I live in a rape culture as a second-class citizen—which means I’ve been raped, get paid less than my male co-workers, and still have a hard time getting people to take me seriously—living in a female body has been pretty cool. I actually like being a woman, especially now that I’m in my 40’s. What I find so distasteful is trying to embody and perform femininity. Lace. Mini skirts. High heels. Makeup. Push-up bras. Smooth legs. An hourglass hip-to-waist ratio. An inviting smile. A willingness to be told what to think.

I worked hard to adopt the mannerisms and affectations of Society’s Desirable Feminine, or at least someone whose appearance shouted I’M READY TO GET FUCKED, which is essentially the same thing. These attributes and the dogged pursuit of them are what I hate about the mainstream definition of culturally-acceptable femininity. Because every single one of them is about oppression. Getting smaller. More contained. More malleable. Hobbled. Agreeable. Compliant. Tortured. Objectified.

What about the Christina suit? It’s contains an entire spectrum of colors and would allow me fluid movement. Does anyone want to see me wearing it? No?

Finding my Authentic Orgasmic Rhythm

One of the things they don’t tell you straight-away about performing femininity is the fact it’s arbitrary, often conflicting, and designed to keep you off balance. Embarrassed. Competitive. Ashamed. Inadequate. Because horizontal violence and oppression. For example, let’s look at the female orgasm.

Over the last few months I’ve discovered that my body doesn’t want to climax every time Brendan and I have sex. She actually prefers to do so every 2-3 times; a rhythm that allows Her to be literally fed by both our combined sexual energy and His semen. She wants to hold that energy inside her and use it to fuel all manner of erotic undertakings like blogging, cooking, and remembering how amazing it is to live inside this beautiful body. To fuel the remembering that Her pleasure is worth building and worth waiting for.

I’m standing in the shower one morning, seeing the truth of this newly-discovered rhythm, and wondering why it feels so revolutionary. I asked my body, “Body, why do you feel so amazed, relieved, and empowered to have discovered this?” The answer came, “Because I’ve been expected to have an orgasm every time we have sex.” Oh. Why? Because that’s a crucial part of performing femininity. According to popular media/porn, we all “know” when a woman has an orgasm because she’s loud and makes a big deal out of it, yelling and flailing around because the pleasure is just so epic.

The pleasure that the man is generating with his amazing, big, fat cock. OBVIOUSLY. So, once she has been thoroughly pleasured, that’s his signal—the sign that he’s “done a good job,” that he’s “earned” his release. That he can now cum, secure in the fact his penis is desirable, he’s an amazing lover, and he is worthy of further love and attention. His ego is intact. For the time being.

As the woman, what if I can’t or don’t want to have an orgasm? Well, now I’m coming dangerously close to bruising, crushing, or invalidating his ego and suffering the consequences. Because there will certainly be consequences and I’m the one who gets to clean up the emotional/psychological fallout. In this construct, preserving/protecting the male ego is MY responsibility and ensuring that ego feels secure all hinges on my ability to perform a convincing orgasm. Every time. Or else.

That’s a lot of pressure and my body has decades of it tamped down inside. Like I said, I’ve never been confident in my ability to perform femininity convincingly enough to ensure my safety.

Fortunately for me, I now have a partner whose aware of all that programming; both sides of it. He knows exactly what it’s like to have a fragile masculine ego that depends on near-constant feminine reassurance for its survival. And because he’s also committed to deep, bilateral healing in our relationship, he has given me a lot of space, time, and reassurance to find my rhythm. He doesn’t ask me to perform feminine sexuality for him unless I choose to do so. He wants to see pure, unadulterated, androgynous Christina and to discover what kind of sex SHE wants. What a fucking relief!

Loving Her as Loving Myself

So, my mother is going to die and with her will go the physical connection that my masculine has to her. How do I want to experience her in the time we have left? Over the years I have shared with her some of my childhood experience; how I’ve felt wounded by her inadequacies, how I’ve felt oppressed by and responsible for her pain, how it felt to be her daughter. Those were anxious, gut-churning encounters for me because holding up a mirror so my mother can see how she inadvertently wounded me took a lot of courage for me to do and for her to look.

It also hurt her. Because she knows she wasn’t the mother we both needed her to be. She couldn’t be. This world ensured she was broken by the time I came into her life. And I no longer feel the need to punish her for that, to try and get her to take responsibility for all the ways she let me down. For the ways she leaned on, squished, and controlled me. If she had the skill to be more respectful, validating, and supportive she would have been. I believe that with all that I am.

I’m a mother; I know how hard it is. And because we both know, it feels like I can now begin the final stages of individuating from her and claim my full identity. Every time I share space with her, feel her love for me, and feel my love for her, I can also step away from her with compassion, with respect. I can complete the process that allows me to transition past, through and with her.