Category Archives: Guest Blogger

The Year of Yes

Q&A Interview with Tracee Sioux

Where were you before your Year of YES!?
Before Year of YES! I had just gotten a divorce and was making $600 a month, feeding my kids from the food bank. I had been a stay-at-home-mom for 12 years, having tanked my journalism career in favor of motherhood. I had kept my foot wedged in the door of my profession by taking craptastic piece writing work for the privilege of calling myself a journalist. It’s the story of hundreds of thousands of other women in this country. I found that no one really wants to hire you after you leave the workforce in favor of motherhood.

What made you want to say YES! to your Soul?
I had a moment, washing dishes after the divorce in a terrifying personal financial crisis and I felt a deep peace within my Soul. She had gotten what she wanted. She was no longer in constant conflict with my wasband. She came here with a purpose—to use her gift of writing to help others—but, he was never supportive of that, constantly telling her to quit and go get a job. Finally, she had gotten what she wanted. I realized, if my Soul gets what she wants, I get to have this incredible peace. If she doesn’t I have this horrible feeling of being conflicted.

What if my soul got everything she wanted? What would my life look like? Where would I be?

I committed. How do you feel about the word NO? I love that word. I think a Power NO is saying YES! to your Soul. Everyone is trying to be the boss of everyone else all the time. Your family, your husband, your kids, your parents, your church, your friends, the PTA, your kid’s teacher, our boss, your coworkers, your neighbors—everyone has an opinon about what you should be doing with your life. Saying YES! to your Soul is saying NO! to everyone else’s agenda for your life.

Why aren’t people already living their Soul’s Purpose?
If you weren’t afraid of your Soul’s Purpose you’d already be living it. Our Souls often ask us to do things that defy convention and interfere with other people’s agendas for our lives. It’s scary to go against what other people believe you should be doing. My Soul asked me to take risks—big risks—emotional, financial, social and sexual—risks during my Year of YES! Much of it didn’t make sense to me. It was a total act of faith. I leapt off a lot of cliffs. Many people don’t approve of what my Soul leads me to do. There’s a loss in that. But, it’s worth it for the feeling of internal peace.

How do you know when it’s your Soul and not something else?
Excellent question. And it’s the one I get asked most often. So many outside voices live inside our heads—vying for mindshare, demanding to be the boss of us. I have several methods for being able to tell what’s the Soul and what’s the Ego or other Outside voices. There’s a Soul v. Ego Smackdown eCourse on my website for free that will walk you through a three-step process. First you have to silence the outside voices. Then you have to invite the Soul to speak. Then you have to choose. The Soul is kind and sweet and gentle. Even if it’s asking you to do something you’re afraid of—and it often will—it will feel peaceful and loving when it asks. The Ego is mean and sometimes even cruel. It has three main lies to get you to obey it: you don’t have enough time, you don’t have enough money and you’re not good enough. It often calls names, gets angry and threatens things like judgment, poverty and shame. The Ego makes a lot of very good and rational points. The Soul simply wants you to follow your desires.

You try alternative methods to sexuality and healing from sexual trauma in the book. Can you talk more about that?
Yes. Like many, many women I have sexual trauma in my past. Traditional therapy participates in what I call Pain Soaking, you talk about your pain, but it never heals. With religion you talk about your pain and celibacy is the only option for sexual healing. Neither provides a positive sexual experience to replace the negative sexual experience. It just leaves a void for the demons to creep back into. I really needed practice to experience staying in my body during sexual contact. I needed to experience my own sexuality without worrying about the other person’s sexuality.

 

You talk about men in this book. Where they’re at and what’s going on with them. Can you talk about that?
I’ve had lots of trauma caused by men in my past. I needed to heal that. We have this new phenomenon with gender roles being flip flopped and men feel sad, impotent in the world. Women are feeling stressed out from doing everything. I wish more men were on the spiritual path. I’d like to see them get in the game. I miss men. My Year of YES! put some phenomenal men in my life and I really, really needed to see that they existed.

You talk about addiction and quitting drinking in the book.

After 9/11 I suffered severe post partum depression—I was 8 months pregnant when I witnessed the second tower being hit. I couldn’t get my physiological terror response to turn off afterward. I was in a state of anxiety that left me debilitated and unable to function. Doctors prescribed more and more Xanax, a dentist prescribed more and more codeine. Eventually I ended up in rehab to avoid seizures from withdrawal. I continued to drink alcohol, but the year before the book was written I had gotten some pretty serious warning signs from my Soul to stop drinking or pay a very high price. Whether it’s a gene or a spiritual demon passed down for generations—It’s a serious problem for me and my family. I’ve always been in relationships with addicts and I’ve fought my own demons. I only drank once during my Year of YES! and it was a terrible experience of separation from God.

You did past life regression in your Year of YES! Why? What was that like?
It’s funny because at the beginning of the book I kind of make fun of past life beliefs. Yet, I was facing turmoil over a relationship that I couldn’t understand. I just couldn’t understand why I felt the way I did. My Soul kept telling me to contact this past life regressionist that I had met at a conference. So I said YES! I had three regression experiences that literally left me changed. During one I felt a love very deep and pure, during another I was pleasure drenched in the love between Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ, and in another I threw a gold clutch from the spirit realm to this realm and was gifted a company logo. Each experience was quite transformative for my Year of YES! There are many dimensions in the Kingdom of Heaven.

You pray to many gods and deities in this book. Why?
I pray to one god of many names and interpretations and traditions. I find common ground in various religious traditions and wisdom among all belief systems. I draw from whichever one brings me the most strength, healing, wholeness, power and beliefs.

You’ve done some pretty seriously wrong things, to friends and family. Why would you tell everyone about them?
I’m flawed. My mistakes aren’t grounded in maliciousness. They were grounded in confusion about who I am and mistakes I have made. Most of them were motivated by love. Love is a many faceted thing and a great many of us are doing it very badly. But we’re doing it.

The Year of Yes Book Synopsis

In 2012 Tracee found herself feeding her kids from the food bank following her divorce. She was doing everything “they” told her to do with her fledgling writing business—she had the national media attention and the Thank You notes to prove it—but she was only making $600 a month. She was “awesome,” everyone said so. She had “awesomed” her way to the food bank. Her life was completely transformed when she decided to follow her Soul’s voice in her business and her life. She ended her Year of YES! filing taxes for $65,000, within 18 months she had cleared the six-figure mark. During the year she built a scalable foundation for her business, created a Spiritual Travel Column, created an amazing support system of positive people, lost three pants sizes and freed herself from the guilt and shame of her past.

She now teaches people how to say YES! to their own Soul’s Song. Every person came here with a Purpose and Tracee loves to help people discover what that Purpose is and turn it into a profitable business and an intentional life. When you align with your Soul’s Purpose the Universe rolls out the red carpet for you—of course, it’s a flying carpet and you have to leap off the cliff to get to it—Tracee helps you gain the audacity to leap.

The Year of YES! Memoir, what if you said YES! to everything your Soul told you to do? Where would your life take you? What would you be doing? This is a memoir of my own Year of YES! It’s a spiritual awakening, a raw, unflinching reckoning with my jagged past, a transmutation of self and an exploration of sexuality—the sacred (and not so sacred)—a journey of healing and a slaying of demons. Ultimately, it’s a look at where I’ve been and choosing where I’m going.

About the Author

Tracee Sioux, Mastress of Manifestation, is author, coach, radio host and creator of The Year of YES! It’s the year you say YES! to everything your Soul tells you to do. Her Soul’s Purpose is to help others develop the audacity to say YES! to their own Soul’s purpose. Her work has been featured in New York Times Magazine, Forbes.com and Today.com.

Sioux led The Girl Revolution, a movement to empower girls in the face of today’s marketing and media messaging. She is the author of Love Distortion: Belle, Battered Codependent and Other Love Stories. Read a free sample chapter of The Year of YES! at http://www.traceesioux.com

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The Xaghra Twins: Remembering the Neolithic Past

by Alexis Martin Faaberg, PhD student, CIIS

Introduction

            In my view, the Xaghra Twins figurine found on the Maltese island of Gozo epitomizes a belief system steeped in gender equality that fostered a harmony with nature to create a sustainable regenerative environment. The items left with the dead, including red ocher, some small stone objects, and figurines, as well as myths of corpulent women are some of the elements that scholars are using to interpret the past on Malta. The Xaghra Circle was in use between 4,100 and 2,800 BC and archaeologists estimate that it held over 800 burials.[1]

The Xaghra Twins

The Xaghra Twins

Careful study of the Xaghra Twins figurine, including its context, refutes the claims of some scholars who disregard the worship of the regenerative power of the female body as merely a depiction of a “fat lady.” These images provide a wealth of information Neolithic cultures are difficult to recreate due to the lack of written data; however, these sites often provide a wealth of artistic language that allows modern scholars to glimpse the past. Unfortunately, there is a tendency in academia to retrofit the symbols of the past to resemble our modern societies. Although the analysis of a single figurine may seem trivial, it is in fact crucial in terms of today’s concern over patriarchal attitudes towards women and the ecocide being waged against the very earth that sustains us. Ultimately, what is at stake within modern archeology is that if women, or their representations, are disregarded in our known history then modern women will be disregarded as well.

The archeologist Caroline Malone claims that very few of the figurines from Malta can be designated as female because “no systematic study has ever been undertaken where the material has been examined in detail” and has concluded that “the traditional ‘Fat Lady’ or goddess figurine, that is, the classic image of prehistoric Malta, is in fact no more female than it is male.”[2] There is a major problem with the current academic circles denying goddess images based on their own inward prejudices or lack of knowledge. Esteemed archeologist Marija Gimbutas has done extensive work on identifying the language of goddess figurines, which clearly identifies gender in prehistoric art.

Xaghra Twins figurine

Xaghra Twins figurine

Analysis of the Xaghra Twins Figurine

            The Xaghra Circle (sometimes referred to as the Broctorff Circle) is the most recently excavated site in Malta. Unfortunately, the site was poorly excavated and many archeologists have called into question the validity of the finds there due to their haphazard discovery.[3] Later more systematic digging resulted in much more informative data.[4] The most famous find is the Xaghra Twins statue, which depicts two skirted human figures. There is currently a debate about whether this image is male or female. The many fleshy female figurines found in Malta have led many to believe that the people worshiped a fertility goddess, which they connect to the culture’s lack of weapons for war. Some scholars have seized on the lack of a clear male deity to try to disregard theories of a Goddess cult on the islands by naming the faith of the prehistoric people as one of folly. In the article “The Death Cults of Prehistoric Malta” the authors suggest that the

worship of fertility may well have been a component of the prehistoric religion. But the recent findings argue that it would be a mistake to concentrate exclusively on any one facet or historical period: the prehistoric religion of Malta was not only an infatuation of fat females[5]

These authors overlook what I consider an important point about the Neolithic religion: that when viewed as a whole, the Xaghra Twins point to more than a gendered female deity, but also to entirely different concepts of gender equality and fertility which consequently led to a sustainable egalitarian society.

Caroline Malone, and others, disagree with “some archeologists [who] have hypothesized that Maltese society may have been a powerful matriarchy dominated by priestesses, female leaders and mother goddesses,” because they believe this is some sort of overzealous feminism.[6] The scholars who believe that many of the figurines from Malta are female also recognize many phallic images from the island as well. It is ironic that archeologists like Malone only question the validity of the female images, leading some to the conclusion that there is an unspoken gender bias within academia to only discover male artifacts. The artifacts, on the other hand, are unbiased. At Tarxien there is an abundance of female, phallus, plant, and animal imagery. Sharon Sultana, author of the Malta Insight Heritage Guides, states that some statues are considered to be “earth mothers” and acknowledges that there are male counterparts as well. She asserts, “There is the possibility that both sexes were venerated contemporarily.”[7] This gender variety indicates a holistic worldview where all people were represented.

The symbolism imprinted on the Xaghra Twins figurine points to a society that was invested in the regenerative powers of the land and the female body. The figurine was found among the collective burial of the dead. The early Maltese were deliberate in their care of the deceased and appeared to show great reverence to death as a process. British archaeologist David H. Trump states, “early depositions were pushed back or ejected to make room for later [bodies]. This seems to indicate the widely-held view that personality remained with the bodies only so long as they were clothed in flesh.”[8] The bodies were kept in rounded tombs and were built near above ground temples. Once the flesh decayed from the body and all of its nutrients had seeped into the soil the body was believed to have given life back to the earth through decomposition. Interestingly, this structure is mirrored in the shape design of both the tombs and the temples, indicating that their purpose was related. Trump seems to follow this claim by highlighting the value of red ocher, which the Maltese would have had to import. He says, “Hinting at strong religious beliefs, the bones were freely sprinkled with red ochre. This was used almost world-wide symbolically for blood, and so life.”[9] The combination of the value placed on the decomposition as a way to nurture life and the use of red ocher to sprinkle new life onto the bodies of the dead points to a belief system focused on the preservation of the entire life cycle: birth, death and regeneration. The early Maltese seem to have believed that they could intensify the process through their death rituals and, thus, enhance the presence of life above ground.

Marija Gimbutas asserts the

Maltese temples were used for specific religious functions, particularly for rituals of death and regeneration. Maltese temples intriguingly occur in pairs […] representing death and regeneration, maturity and youth, or winter and spring.[10]

Gimbutas references many reasons for these beliefs, but the most striking is that the bodies were often buried in a fetal position, as if being put back into the womb of the earth to be reborn.[11] The Xaghra Twins may be reflecting the above ground temple structures and may possess similar religious significance. Ggantija, a large Neolithic Maltese temple, is situated near the Xaghra Circle where the twin figurine was found and has the same double goddess structure. Gimbutas explains the double goddess temple structure:

The alignment here is significant and we may suppose the larger temple to be the mother and the smaller the daughter of the divine family, or we may see them as a pair of sisters […] Still another possibility is that the representation is of two different aspects of the same Goddess, symbolizing youth and maturity, or death and regeneration[12]

Gimbutas asserts that these figurines are extremely complex and cannot be classified as merely fertility figures or Venuses. The egg-shaped apses of the temple resemble the egg-shaped rounded burial tombs below ground. The temples and burial tombs likely worked in conjunction to enact the regenerative properties of the Maltese religious system to promote regenerative life.

Gimbutas also comments on the Xaghra Twins directly, saying that it “quite likely symbolizes reemerging new life.”[13] Archaeology is evolving to incorporate the language of Neolithic art and understand the religion of the past without a modern overlay. In the introduction to her revolutionary work Language of the Goddess, Gimbutas asserts these ancient cultures “can best be understood on their own planes of reference, grouped according to their inner coherence.   They constitute a complex system in which every unit is interlocked with every other.”[14] The particular language of the Xaghra Twins, and the surrounding archeological finds, point to a belief system that is steeped in a co-creative process emphasizing regenerative life. The following paragraphs will illuminate the artistic language of the statue and its implications of the larger culture.

Xaghra Twins figurine

Xaghra Twins figurine

The Symbolism of the Xaghra Twin Figurine

In my view, the symbolic language of the Xaghra Twin figurine is an invocation for fertility and abundance. The most striking element of the statue is that there are two individuals, linked together by a pleated skirt. Gimbutas asserts that doubles equal intensification, which denotes potency or abundance.[15] The doubling of the figures indicates that the symbolism of the figurine must have been of great importance to the culture that created it.

The second most striking symbol is the steaopygia, which is a further intensification symbol, but of fertility. Thus, the imagery of the statue can be viewed as a physical prayer to bring forth fertility and abundance. However, some scholars have argued that the Malta figurines are not purely steatopygous because their fat is distributed throughout their bodies.[16] I concede that the larger statues are rounded throughout their bodies; however, the majority of the weight is situated around the buttocks and, therefore, should be acknowledged as having steaopygia.

Xaghra Twins figurine

Xaghra Twins figurine

Trump has stated that red ocher is a symbol for blood and life. The calves, feet and top front of the bed or couch that the twins are sitting upon is coated in red ocher.[17] Caroline Malone noted, “feet may have represented the means for the spirit to be transported to the next life.”[18] There has been some dispute over whether the Xaghra Twins are male or female.   Because Trump, and other scholars, do not account for this ocher to have meaning attached to the physical bodies of the statue; they have not been able to state conclusively that these statues are female. The figures do not have prominent breasts to identify them as female, but the red ocher, as a symbol of blood and life, does identify the sex. Based on the location of the red ocher it is obvious that it is representative of menstrual blood. The pleated skirt is slightly shorter on the front side of the figurines, exposing the red below. This intentional exposure is likely to emphasize not only painted red feet, but to make this area of the figurine the focal point. As women biologically menstruate once a month in the body’s effort to create life it is likely that the early Maltese recognized this ability and were showcasing the life-giving powers of menstrual blood through the ocher. A similar skirted figurine was discovered at Tarxien which had a number of small human represented placed below the skirt above the feet.[19] Such symbolic language makes it unnecessary for the genitalia of a figurine to be exposed for the gender to be apparent. As men do not experience this biological change it is unlikely that the artist would have created them to be so, especially when phallic images are present within the culture. Scholars who take a reductionist viewpoint to their studies are unable to see the language of such artwork in totality as Gimbutas and others have done.

The vine-like spirals that swirl beneath the Xaghra Twins goes further to accentuate that the ocher represents life, but in this case plant life. The spiral design is often described as volutes; however, their design is much more wild and natural. Gimbutas describes the spiral as “The energy inherent in the continually moving forms [that] awakens dormant life power and moves it forward.”[20] In essence, the spiral functions in the same way as the ocher. Both imbue the object with life. Archeologist Anthony Pace analyzes the spiral patterns in the Hypogeum.[21] He describes these spirals as a departure from the highly structured development of the temples and states that they are “organic” in design.[22] This root-like spiral design is also present above ground at Tarxien. David H. Trump appears to disagree with Pace. He says, “It is possible, though unlikely in view of its probable derivation from the volutes decorating local pottery that vegetative symbolism was intended for these spirals, and they could be simply abstract motifs.”[23] My own view is that what Trump insists is an abstract motif is in fact filled with natural symbolism of life’s cycles. This is based on artistic representations at Tarxien and the other temple sites, which are filled with spiral, animal, and human designs. While, the above-ground temple spirals are very structured, the tomb spirals of the hypogeum and the Xaghra Twins do not follow a linear path. Though viewers can only speculate on the meaning of these spirals it is plausible that they might indicate root patterns. This would be consistent with their presence below ground and by the presence of ocher to bring them to life. In the Hypogeum this root system could represent a pathway for the dead to be reborn to the living; whereas, the spiral root design beneath the feet of the Xaghra Twins could be the pathways of lifeblood flowing down from the figures to nurture the dead. These images together showcase the death and regenerative cycle that may have been part of the tomb worship of Neolithic Malta.

Xaghra Twins figurine

Xaghra Twins figurine

The largest section of the figurine is the egg-shaped buttocks beneath the pleated skirt.[24] Though none of the current articles address the pleat design, the evaluation of the skirt is vital to understand the overall meaning of the figurine. There are several deliberate detail changes, which appear to be unique to this particular statue. From the front side the pleats look identical; however, the back shows that the figure on the right, holding the cup, has a separate design.[25] The front and back of the left figure have oblong pleats with two long centerlines. Gimbutas asserts that the bi-line is likely another symbol for intensification.[26] The backside pleats on the right figure has four oblong one-ended pleats, but with a singular dividing line reaching from the center of the inner pleat to the floor. According to Gimbutas this image represents the vulva.[27] The vulva, according to Gimbutas, represents “the birth-giving aspect of the Goddess in the sense of her protecting, promoting, and aiding in the act of birth.”[28] The context of the figurine is important to our understanding of the significance of the overall statue. With the addition of this symbol we now have seen that the figurine includes symbols of the entire life cycle—birth, death, and regeneration. It is likely that these symbols of birth and intensification are tied to the re-birth of life given the context of the site. Unfortunately, it is not clear if the number four, the number of pleats, is significant, but it is possible that this represents that seasons. The two large side pleats are unique in that they contain four lines within one larger oblong one-ended pleat. I have speculated that the number four might be interpreted as a sign of the seasons and as such may indicate a belief that the year-long life cycles of seasons are intertwined with the rebirth of the human deceased. Regardless of any of these speculations it is clear that the artist deliberately made these selections and therefore it is worth our effort to try and decipher their meaning.

Above the pleated skirt both of the figures hold an object. The left figure holds a small headless figurine slightly away from her body. The head was likely broken off at some point due to the vulnerability of the neck.   Malone describes this figure as a “tiny dressed person,” but does not compare it to the larger figurines.[29] While the pleated skirts of the Twins hug the contours of the body, the small figure’s diamond inscribed skirt flows outward in a full a-line pattern. Unfortunately, this pattern is not present elsewhere in early Maltese artwork nor is it common in Neolithic art. The hands of the small figure are clasped together. Given the context of regeneration throughout the overall statue it is likely that small figure represents a human rebirth, though likely symbolic. The small figure is being offered forward, leading to further speculation of the co-creative process. Without a stronger context for this design no successful guesswork can occur.

The right figure holds a cup or vessel in the right hand while the left hand is left loose near the belly area. The design and functional uses of the cup are essential for understanding the religious significance of the image. The design is a womb-shape and can be likened to a human female’s womb, which both fills with blood of life and empties. The round body of the cup can be viewed as a container for life and as a representation of fertility. While one hand grasps the cup the other hand is touching the womb of the figure with slightly splayed fingers. Since the red ocher exiting the bottom of the skirt has clearly defined these figures as female, it is possible that the hand is touching the empty or recently conceived womb-space. This assumption is based on the context of the female figurine. The breasts are flattened and there is not a protruding belly on either figure. Based on these details the hand likely represents the hope of new life.

While the loose ponytail hairstyle appears to offer little to understanding of the early Maltese it may allude to gender inclusivity so far unrealized by many scholars. Gimbutas contends that the Great Goddess of life, death, and regeneration is extremely complex and though she does not analyze the Xaghra Twins in as much detail as the work that she has done throughout the Aegean and Balkans it is clear from her expansive research that she believed that the symbolic language extended to the Maltese archipelago. According to Gimbutas, during the “sixth millennium the goddess becomes more vigorous and less obese with her shoulders, upper arms, and breasts accentuated” and while the heads of some goddess figures became “phallus-shaped suggesting their androgynous nature.”[30] It is my view that during this period the ancient peoples began to associate their female deity as containing the male aspect within her overall body. Malone, Trump and others seek to remove any identifying female aspect from figurines to make them male as if male gender were the default gender of the Neolithic peoples, as it seems to be in our modern societies. By looking at the Xaghra Twins from behind it is possible that the heads and long necks could be seen as phallic symbols and that the large bulging arms could represent the scrotum. Hamangian and Sesklo statues are described by Gimbutas as having male aspects though not to the detail that I am describing here. Both the Xaghra Twins and the Sesklo figurine were “long-haired.” The Hamangian sculptures are described as having “very strongly built bodies, muscular upper arms, huge abdomens and thighs, and folded arms.”[31] This analysis provides a view of images that have sexual properties of both genders, leading to the possibility that the figurines represent a being capable of containing all the necessary elements for fertility. However, the overall context of the Xaghra Twins is undoubtedly female.

The final section of the statue from Xaghra is the delicately inscribed base.   The couch or bed is very similar to the one on which the famous “Sleeping Lady” figurine reclines. A shorter and thicker base supports the lower wide base, which are marked by three small lines grouped together. This tri-line is, according to Gimbutas, associated with “beginning.”[32] She further states that the tri-line is often connected to the uterus and snake spirals.[33] Although there are no snakes present, both the organic spirals and the uteri of the Xaghra Twins are just above the couch. If the tri-line is a symbol for beginning then this figurine is likely the beginning or conception of new life given the context of the burial mound it was found in. The larger cultural implication of this assumption is that the early Maltese clearly had faith in their belief system to believe that life would return and that they encouraged this process through their artwork. Clearly they must have also believed that they could co-create with their deity by creating this small figurine and placing it among the dead.

The ecological situation on the Maltese archipelago is tenuous at best. Malone and other scholars, including Trump, have claimed that Malta was “an island world under powerful economic and environmental stress, where the communities were struggling to maintain their former standards of living and to feed the population.”[34] These scholars base this on the lack of trade and the preference to expend energy building communal temple and burial structures instead of homes. This assumption of the downfall of the culture suggests an internal prejudice of the scholars against female-centered religious systems. Trump has shown that the islands have sporadic rainfall and the summer is often a period of drought.[35] Soil erosion and lack of timber are also a problem on the island. However, the early Maltese were able to adapt; Trump states that they had methods of water catchment and storage, and knowledge of local springs.[36] While I do not deny that the islands were less than ideal for human habitation I look at the long history of progressive human habitation on the islands as proof that these early peoples thrived. Famed Malta archeologist Sir Themistocles Zammit stated that at the Hypogeum there was a deep-water cistern that has been in use by the public since ancient times.[37] The ingenuity shown by the early peoples is evidence of their ability to survive over time by utilizing the natural resources they had. This is confirmed, although not purposely, by Malone who stated “Their health was apparently very good, with few dental problems or other detectable illness,” meaning that these people lived well in contrast to many in developing countries today.[38] Furthermore, “The same anthropological features are present from the earliest Zebbug people to the late Tarxien population, which evinces little or no change in the genetic makeup of the early Maltese community.”[39] This time period is from 4,100 B.C. to 2,500 B.C. For over 2,000 years these peoples maintained cultural independence and environmental health. By demonstrating the veracity of the local people, Malone and her colleges extend the findings of Marija Gimbutas, and others, who believe that the Neolithic people were an extremely sophisticated society who lived well within the parameters of their environment.

Interestingly, Peg Streep writes that the temples were built to show “gratitude and honor due a deity who presided over a land that, while fertile, did not yield its fruit easy.[40] But to what deity were they praying? Malone, Trump and other prominent scholars have neglected to dig up the oral histories of the islands that contain the seed of their cultures early beginnings. Feminist Veronica Veen has researched the mythology of the islands and found existing living traditions of giantess stories told by local women. Veen states that the stories represent a matrilineal legacy and are passed from mother to daughter.[41] These stories are also place-related, meaning that they are linked to a particular physical place.[42] The stories are rooted to the places where they stem from, rooting them in the minds of the local people. This is a tale that Veen collected from Xaghra: “That a Giantess used to carry those stones from over Sannat to Xaghra: carrying it on her back, while she used to carry her baby-child, her baby, at the back. And during the way she used to eat beans.”[43] This story somewhat resembles the Xaghra Twins figurine in that a large woman with a child is represented. The Xaghra Twins may be a smaller representation of Gigantija. It is my view that such images lead to a larger cosmic worldview held by the Maltese in which female images hold power over life, death, and the continuation of both. Furthermore, the presence of the beans indicates that these few factors were important enough to pass on through the generations. This evidence shows that fertility and plant life were connected with the giantess.   Though modern archeologists refer to the corpulent figures as goddesses the folktales refer to them as giantesses, both possessing a supernatural width and whose primary concerns seem to be children and food.

Due to these somewhat harsh conditions the early peoples were adaptive and knowledgeable about their environment, including their food sources. Their connection to their deity and their food is apparent in the myths of the Giantess and her beans. Malone and Trump believe that environmental pressures caused the decline of the Neolithic Maltese, but their assumption is based on the lack of other data.[44] I agree with these authors that environmental pressure may have been a contributing factor, considering the evidence of soil erosion, but the health of the bodies do not point towards environmental destruction. x Thus, the lack of other data should not be brought forth as the proof for the decline of the culture. Instead, allow the early Maltese disappearance to remain a mystery until more evidence can be uncovered.

What we do know of the Maltese we know through the megalithic structures they have left behind and their own bones. The latter provides the most succinct data about the life and social structure. The dead at Xaghra Circle were buried in collective graves. This points to an egalitarian social structure. In her analysis of the Maltese temples Caroline Malone believes that the temples were ceremonial structures and that the culture was highly socialized under a chiefdom.[45] This theory is problematic given Malone’s own admission that “the Maltese evidence is more difficult here since the collective nature of the burial practice […] fail[s] to identify differential status in individual burial, even though the whole group could be seen as ‘wealthy.’”[46] Without evidence of a hierarchal social structure scholars should not attempt to put our modern societies social structure upon the Neolithic.

Conclusion

The finds at Xaghra Circle, and throughout Malta, indicate a society that recognized both female and male qualities as beneficial for the continued prosperity of their collective group. If a hierarchal ruler had led the people their high status would likely have been apparent in their burial by separating their body from the masses and marking it with jewelry or other treasures. Malone’s conclusion that the presence of a matristric, goddess civilization cannot be proven with the evidence available is interesting considering that she herself was unable to prove that a patrilineal clan structure existed. Instead the evidence points to an egalitarian society.

In their book “The Myth of the Goddess” Ann Baring and Jules Cashford discuss the findings on Malta,

The unity and coherence of the metaphysical ideas of these ancient peoples become more accessible if we are aware of the limitations of our own minds in approaching them. If earth and sky were more resacralized, it might be easier for us to rediscover the ‘language’ of the goddess […] The discovery of these centers of Neolithic civilization […] must have implications for our conception of the evolution of consciousness. We will at least have to give up the idea of primitive tribes lurking in the darkness of prehistory awaiting our civilized minds to enlighten them. We would also lose the condescending terminology of ‘idols,’ Venus figurines’ and ‘fertility cults’”[47]

Baring and Cashford bring to light an interesting facet of modern archeology. Though it is likely an unconscious act, many scholars try to silence any artifact, myth, or object that does not confirm the current androcentric chiefdom society that we currently reside in. In an effort to better understand such wellsprings of knowledge as the Xaghra Twins figurine we must step back and question what prejudices we are bringing to the academic conversation. Marija Gimbutas has given academia the language to read the Neolithic world. Her gift should be utilized and critiqued so that a conversation that includes the female perspective is heard. Without these added voices the archeological conversation is missing half of its voices and should this continue our megalithic past will ooze into silence. Though this paper investigates only on one small figurine from a small island, it is a small example of what is missing from the bigger academic picture.

 

Endnotes

[1] David H. Trump, Malta: Prehistory and Temples (Valetta: Midsea Books, 2002), 178.

[2] Caroline Malone, “Temple Art of Ancient Malta” in Ancient Goddesses, eds.Lucy Goodison, and Christine Morris (London: British Museum Press, 1998), 151.

[3] Trump, Malta, 176-181.

[4] Trump, Malta, 176.

[5] Caroline Malone, et. al., “The Death Cults of Prehistoric Malta,” Scientific American (1993): 116.

[6] Malone, “Death Cults,” 113.

[7] Sharon Sultana, The National Museum of Archeology: The Neolithic Period (Valetta: Heritage Malta, 2006), 28.

[8] Trump, Malta, 44

[9]Ibid., 45

[10] Marija Gimbutas, The Living Goddesses, Miriam Robbins Dexter, ed. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999), 95.

[11] Marija Gimbutas, The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe (San Francisco: Harper, 1991), 174.

[12] Gimbutas, Civilization of the Goddess, 174.

[13] Gimbutas, Living Goddesses,, 95.

[14] Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess. (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989), XV.

[15] Gimbutas, Language of the Goddess, 161-172.

[16]Isabelle Vella Gregory, The Human Form in Neolithic Malta (Valletta: Midsea Books, 2005.), 20.

[17] Gregory, Human Form in Neolithic Malta, 20.

[18] Caroline Malone, and Simon Stoddart, “Representations of Death – Discoveries at Xaghra Stone Circle, Gozo,” in Maltese Prehistoric Art: 5,000 – 2,500 BC, ed. Anthony Pace (Malta: Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, 1996), 49.

[19] John Evans, “What Went On In a Maltese Megalithic ‘Temple’?,”in Maltese Prehistoric Art: 5000-25000 BC, ed. Anthony Pace (Malta: Fondazzjoi Patrimonju Malti, 2002), 42.

[20] Gimbutas, Language of the Goddess, 279.

[21] Anthony Pace, The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, Paola. (Valletta: Heritage Books, 2004), 21. Note: the spirals in the Hypogeum indicate a strong religious connection between the main island of Malta and the smaller island of Gozo where the Xaghra Twins were discovered.

[22] Pace, Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, 21.

[23] Trump, Malta, 93.

[24] Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994), 135-136.

Note: The oldest cloth artifact showing pleating is from 3,000 B.C. from Tarkhan, Egypt. Though it is not clear who invented the pleat design it is clear that the design was shared throughout the ancient world.

[25]Gregory, Human Form, 56-61.

[26] Gimbutas, Language of the Goddess, 167.

[27] Ibid., 100-107.

[28] Ibid., 104.

[29] Malone, “Death Cults,”116.

[30] Marija Gimbutas, The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of Michigan Press, 1982),152.

[31] Gimbutas, Gods and Goddesses,153.

[32] Gimbutas,Language of the Goddess, 92.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Malone, “Death Cults,”117.

[35] Trump, Malta,19.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Sir Themistocles Zammit, Malta: Tarxien Temples and Saflieni Hypogeum (Malta: Interprint, 1994), 133.

[38] Malone, “Death Cults,” 115.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Peg Streep, Sanctuaries of the Goddess: The Sacred Landscapes and Objects (Boston: Little Brown, 1994), 83.

[41] Veronica Veen, Female Images of Malta: Goddess, Giantess, Farmeress (Haarlem: Inanna-Fia, 1994), 21.

[42] Ibid,

[43] Ibid., 27-8.

[44] Malone, “Death Cults,” 117.

[45]Malone, “Temple Art of Ancient Malta,” 163.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ann Baring & Jules Cashford “The Neolithic Great Goddess of Sky, Earth and Waters” in The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image, (London: ARKANA, 1993), 104-5.

 

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Filed under Alexis Martin, blood, Guest Blogger, menstruation

How to Talk to your Daughter about Her Body?

By Nati Lucero

How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “you’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are – you’re glowing.”

Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.

Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

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Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.

Reproduced with permission from Namaluc

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Filed under coming of age, daughter, growing up, Guest Blogger, menstruation, mother, motherhood, parenting, transition

Leah’s First Period Ceremony

by DeAnna L’am

Leah called me to let me know she has just got her period! Being a heart-auntie to her I was delighted, and deeply touched that she chose to share this with me… Leah excitedly relayed the experience over the phone, told me of her Moms special attentions, and her bounty of gifts that included a red ruby necklace, a journal, fragrant bath salts, a red candle, a box of soothing teas, and many beautifully printed cloth pads. Leah continued to say that she chose to have a ceremony with only her Mom and myself present! I was lost for words…

women7-Cropped

The date was set, and Leah’s Mom & I were busy planning. We knew we wanted the ceremony to take place in nature, and chose a special grove of Redwoods, which we both love, as our designated spot. We explored what we would want to convey to Leah, and planned ceremonial activities to reflect each of the points we discussed. This was exciting!

The grove welcomed us with warm sunshine, a slight breeze, and deep quiet. We walked softly on the forest floor: a veteran cycling woman, a woman who stopped bleeding, and a girl who just started her first cycle…

We draped red fabrics over lower branches to create an entrance to our sacred place: a cave-like hollow at the base of a huge Grandma Redwood tree. Leah explored the surrounding while we prepared the womb-like tree hollow. We placed a large red fabric on the ground, and created an altar in the center, honoring each of the 4 directions and elements: Feathers in the East to represent Air; A red candle in the South to represent Fire; Sea shells in the West represented Water, and crystals in the North brought Earth to complete the circle, while red flowers graced the center.

Everything was ready. We called Leah to the opening of the tree hollow, smudged each other with pungent sage to clear the old and welcome the new, and asked each other: ‘How do you enter the circle?’ To which we each answered: “In perfect love and perfect trust!”

Inside our cozy womb space we started with a song, and then Leah’s Mom and I each shared with her the story of our first period. Leah then told her fresh new story for the first time in sacred circle.

Each of us adult women shared some of the confusions or questions we had as girls about menstruation and what we learned over the years, which in turn allowed Leah to ask us some of her own questions and receive answers.

We then each presented Leah with a gift. Her Mom gifted her with a Moon Calendar that shows all phases of the moon, for an entire year, on one beautiful poster. Leah marked her first MoonTime by filling in the full moon image with a red pen, as her flow started on the day of the full moon! I presented Leah with a red bracelet and a red rose.

To symbolize Leah’s transition from girlhood to womanhood, her Mom and I created a gateway with arms stretched up and hands clasped together. We invited Leah to ponder what she would like to leave behind as she moves through the gate, and what was she hoping to move toward.

When she was ready, we asked Leah to say Goodbye to an object she brought to represent her childhood, and to discard of it anywhere she chooses. Leah placed a stuffed animal, which she had since she was a baby, in a small cavity inside a nearby redwood, and stood there a moment, saying Goodbye to it…

She then turned toward the open gateway, which her mom and I were embodying, and regally walked through to ‘The Other Side’ representing Womanhood. Our cheers and hugs lasted for a long time…

The time for blessings arrived! We opened a pomegranate juice bottle and poured a few drops on Mother Earth, speaking words of blessing for Her well being. Filling our own glasses with beautiful crimson liquid, we each spoke heartfelt blessing to Leah, honoring her as a newly cycling sister. We shared yummy dark chocolate to enrich and sweeten the moment, which we dipped into our juice and devoured!

It was time to close the circle by thanking and releasing the four directions & four elements whom we welcomed at the opening. While we gathered and packed our altar, Leah was quietly communing with a redwood tree. A shift seemed to have taken place in her. She was still a girl, but a sense of depth seems to have settled in and around her, that will only deepen and grow through her many years of cycling.

(* Leah is a pseudo-name I gave my young friend to protect her privacy)

About the Author:

DeAnna L’am, speaker, coach, and trainer, is the author of ‘Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood’ and ‘A Diva’s Guide to Getting Your Period’. She is the founder of Red Moon School of Empowerment for Women & Girls™ .

A pioneer in Menstrual Empowerment, DeAnna has been transforming lives around the world for over 20 years, by helping women & girls love themselves unconditionally!  She teaches women how to dissolve PMS symptoms; draw strength from their cycle (rather than be at its mercy); model self-acceptance, self-care, and self-esteem to their daughters; and hold Red Tents in their communities.

Visit DeAnna at: www.deannalam.com

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DeAnna L’am is excited to announce…

2nd Annual Red Tents In Every Neighborhood ~ Global Summit:

OUR DAUGHTERS, OURSELVES

 “A Mother-Daughter Interview in the Red Tent”
a New Video by Dr. Isadora Leidenfrost  and Teresa Moorehouse will be featured during the Summit.

What messages did your mother give you about being a Woman?

What messages are you offering your daughter, or son, about being a Woman?

What legacy would you like to pass to Today’s Girls?

About the Red Tent World Summit:

Join me to listen to Womb Wisdom, to Honor Our Mothers, Ourselves, and Today’s Girls! Get Inspired by Leading Visionary Women from Around the World: U.S.A, Spain, Austria, Italy, France, Ireland, India, Mexico, Chile, and New Zealand, with Special Guest – MARIANNE WILLIAMSON!

Our FREE Global Summit will air February 1-28,

and you can watch it from the comfort of your home!

join-the-telesummit

 

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Filed under DeAnna L'am, Guest Blogger, menstruation

Celebrate Menstrual Monday!

by DeAnna Lam

Everything starts as a Thought!

A dissertation, a dress, an airplane, this article, or a national holiday such as Thanksgiving…

The thoughts of Sarah Josepha Hale translated into action: she wrote letters to American politicians for 40 years(!) until Abraham Lincoln eventually proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November in the U.S.A. What does this have to do with us? Everything!

It took one woman only 40 years to change the tide of a nation, to create a legacy that is now an established tradition. We can do the same with Menstrual Monday!

Menstrual Monday is the Monday BEFORE Mother’s Day, since menstruation comes BEFORE motherhood (and typically long after…)

Menstrual-Monday

Menstrual Monday was conceived and birthed by Geneva Catchman in the 1990′s. Since then, grass root celebrations sprang up spontaneously anywhere a woman heard of the idea and was inspired to action. As one of these women I have been celebrating Menstrual Monday privately and publicly ever since I first heard of it.

Popular culture, in most places on Earth, goes beyond devaluing menstruation. It is considered a taboo and the attitudes about it are fraught with stereotypes, distortions, prejudice, and misinformation. This has been the case for a few generations, and the legacy of such distorted negativity has been passed on from mothers to daughters since the times of our Great-Grandmothers (if not earlier), as well as through literature, media, billboards and corporations trying to sell feminine hygiene products to women.

It’s time for us to reclaim Menstruation from the “medical condition” and cultural nuisance status in which it was fossilized, to the empowering, renewing, and intuitive condition it truly is. And what better way to do this than to celebrate it in an international holiday?!?

In 2008, in celebration of Menstrual Monday, I built a temporary Red Tent Downtown Sebastopol (the Northern California town where my family and I live) with the help of a handful of women. The response was surprise, curiosity and awe, as women stepped into the Red Tent to find out what it was all about. Not one negative comment was made! Drivers passing by the plaza playfully beeped in response to our sign that read: “Honk If You Are On Your Period!” More than anything, this was an opportunity to educate women, as well as a few brave men, about the power of Menstruation.

What is the power of Menstruation?

Menstruation is the process by which our body sheds the inner lining of our womb, a highly nutritious life-sustaining tissue, which grows monthly in anticipation for new life, and is shed monthly in the absence of pregnancy. This life-giving substance nourishes any and all life, and will give your garden, or house plants, a shot of life that no commercial fertilizer can ever provide.

Menstruation is also our body’s monthly call for rest, renewal, and regeneration.

Menstrual Monday is one way to acknowledge the power of menstruation, to honor and celebrate it, to remember our unique and magical ability to bring forth life, as well as our amazing creative forces that can be otherwise channeled. It is a reminder that our body speaks to us, monthly, and that we need to listen… Menstrual Monday is also a call for unification in celebrating womanhood around the world.

This is an invitation for you to do just this! In the privacy of your home, in an intimate circle of women, or in a joyous public gathering – celebrate!

If it took Sarah Josepha Hale 40 years to change the tides in a non-electronic era, think what we can do in the age of internet and social media… We can change the world!

About the Author:

DeAnna L’am, speaker, coach, and trainer, is the author of ‘Becoming Peers – Mentoring Girls Into Womanhood’ and ‘A Diva’s Guide to Getting Your Period’. She is the founder of Red Moon School of Empowerment for Women & Girls™ .

A pioneer in Menstrual Empowerment, DeAnna has been transforming lives around the world for over 20 years, by helping women & girls love themselves unconditionally!  She teaches women how to dissolve PMS symptoms; draw strength from their cycle (rather than be at its mercy); model self-acceptance, self-care, and self-esteem to their daughters; and hold Red Tents in their communities.

Visit DeAnna at: www.deannalam.com

bar

-1

DeAnna L’am is excited to announce…

2nd Annual Red Tents In Every Neighborhood ~ Global Summit:

OUR DAUGHTERS, OURSELVES

 “A Mother-Daughter Interview in the Red Tent”
a New Video by Dr. Isadora Leidenfrost  and Teresa Moorehouse will be featured during the Summit.

What messages did your mother give you about being a Woman?

What messages are you offering your daughter, or son, about being a Woman?

What legacy would you like to pass to Today’s Girls?

About the Red Tent World Summit:

Join me to listen to Womb Wisdom, to Honor Our Mothers, Ourselves, and Today’s Girls! Get Inspired by Leading Visionary Women from Around the World: U.S.A, Spain, Austria, Italy, France, Ireland, India, Mexico, Chile, and New Zealand, with Special Guest – MARIANNE WILLIAMSON!

Our FREE Global Summit will air February 1-28,

and you can watch it from the comfort of your home!

join-the-telesummit

Leave a comment

Filed under DeAnna L'am, Guest Blogger, menstruation

How Women hold Space for one another : Acknowledgment as an act of the Sacred

by Hollie B.

lunation.com.au

I give thanks to my dear Sister who agreed to my sharing of this story. I have chosen not to use her name. Because that’s not what’s important in this Story. So for now, she is called ‘this Woman’.

This is a Story about why I believe all Women benefit from sharing Story in a Red Tent. I don’t so much believe that every Woman needs to speak to share their Story in the Red Tent. But each Woman may find healing through Being present with shared Stories.

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I know this Woman who is employed in a place where She sees the absolute worst in human behaviour. Anything awful You can imagine, this Woman has probably seen it, heard of it, or been exposed to a story of it in some way. I’m not exaggerating, and I’m not trying to bring You into a yuk Space, I just want to paint a very clear picture of how different this Woman’s everyday life is compared to many of us.

She has an awesome partner. In this case, her partner is a man, but it is not his gender that is important. What I take from this story is that her husband is there for her in the sense that anything awful that she needs to download from work, she can share with him and she knows he can take it. He works there too.

Home life is good for this Woman. Her children have grown and they are doing their own thing. She celebrates their maturity, knowing that their Journey is their own. Anything that causes stress from work, gets talked about before coming home, and left on the road. In other words, she doesn’t bring it home with her. She has a relationship with her husband, that although has had pain and grief in the past, is healed and in an Awesome Space now. She’s done Circles for healing her menarche and healing her mother-issues and letting go of the past and… In other words, right now, even though there are things that bother her in her worklife, and she knows there will still be Life Work to do, yet she feels fairly sorted.

Is that to suggest that this Woman doesn’t need an Experience such as a Red Tent? Like, she’s fairly sorted so she doesn’t need to sit around with other Women to talk about ‘issues’. She’s got her husband afterall. If he’s so Awesome, why would she need to go along to a Red Tent? She’s already got understanding and a soundboard for whenever she does have an issue. She feels supported at home…

Well, recent experiences have taught me that actually yes, she does still need the Red Tent Experience. This is not something I’ve come to on my own by the way. This isn’t something I’m coming at from my place of advice and an ‘I know what You need attitude’. Actually, it comes straight from this Woman’s mouth.

But the reason might not be what you’re thinking.

This Woman, wants to Be witness to other Women’s stories. She understands that everyone needs a place to share – to vent – to speak – to let go – and everyone needs to feel heard in that.

This Woman does not believe that She has ‘no issues’. But she does feel that the ‘everyday’ things she is haunted with are not for the ears of anyone outside of her industry. It’s not about being selfish. It’s not about coming and hearing everyone else’s ‘stuff’ and not adding anything to the energy. Actually, it’s about finding the Right place (for her) to share her stories, and entering the Sacred Space so that it is held Sacred. For this Woman, she feels depth in being the Witness. She isn’t there to give advice, or story-compete (Oh Yes I’ve seen lots of that), nor is she in the Red Tent to suppress some sort of need to feel special by being different.

Put simply, this Woman finds depth in the Work of witnessing other Women’s stories. In the act of acknowledgement – as witness to other Women and where they are in the moment – she becomes a Sacred Keeper of Tradition and Compassion. When she has something to say, she does. But for the most part, She helps hold the Space. She sits listening, without judgement – accepting of the Story as it is. She nurtures Women who do need to share. And She is content to Be.

Recently a number of events played out in front of me that really anchored this understanding for me. I saw many aspects of this Story. I heard the words ‘I’m fine’ while watching the body language that said ‘don’t fucken push me cos I will break – and I don’t want to break right now!’ I felt the acceptance of this Space while watching other Women go on the finger pointing mission of trying to ‘help’ and offer advice. I saw the break down of safe and Sacred energy with that pushing. I felt the pain of this Woman in not feeling accepted for where she needed to Be with other Women. I felt the distrust from Women who held expectations about sharing. The next day I felt Truth and Realness pour from the heart of this Woman as we shared together how that happened and where she would have liked it to Be. And it was in that conversation that I got clear around one very important aspect of the Red Tent.

I understood already that Women need to speak. I understood already that for a long time Women have not been heard. I have also noticed often that there are times when Women just talk for the sake of it. I have noticed that even when You suggest as a facilitator that everyone can keep their opinions and advice to themselves, and just let a Woman Be in her Space, they just can’t help themselves giving advice and opinions and cutting People off. I have noticed that some Women have a need to agree and say ‘You’ll be right’ and ‘You’re strong’ and ‘You can do it’ in response to another Woman’s Story. And I’ve noticed that this is not only un-helpful, it’s fucking disrespectful.

Red Tent

My Red Tent and Women’s Spaces aren’t for feel good pep-talks. I facilitate Spaces for Women to Be. And to feel supported in that Being. In these Spaces it doesn’t matter who we are at home. What we do at work. What we have to do tomorrow. We just get to Be exactly as we are – in whatever Space – in that moment – without apologies. And we get to do it in a supported Space.

And what I became clear around, thanks to this Woman, is that I really want for the Red Tent Experiences that I facilitate for Women to feel the Power of sharing Stories, simply through Being Witness.

And then that got me thinking (it’s fairly on-the-go in my mind – when thinking is on, it’s really on until clarity is found). Although the Red Tent Experience happens in its own way, and Women share whatever they need in relation to that day, that moment; there’s still some things that some of us need to heal – and we don’t necessarily have a safe Space to do this in. Some of those ‘issues’ are older than ‘this moment and this day’, and we’re not necessarily sure how to bring them up. A ‘general’ Red Tent for sharing, although beauty-full and healing, may not always get to the deepest seat of what we need to heal.

It’s a bit daunting to bring up our miscarriages and our terminations and our divorce and how to raise our sons and daughters and our mental illness and our mother issues and our body image perceptions and… in a space full of Women who we have never met, or whom we only see every now and then. It’s particularly daunting to suddenly bring out the deep Stories of grief and loss that have been pushed down for a long time, or never given a Space. For example, it’s not easy to start talking about the abortion You never dealt with emotionally ten years ago, when the Woman next to You is talking about how she loves being a parent.

I always find it so deeply moving to hear stories from Women about things I’ve never experienced. Whether the Story is about joy or loss, it is the difference that I find mySelf inspired by. I feel honoured when a Woman shares something new to me. That is the journey of the Witness. It is quite beauty-full.

The essence of the Red Tent is the commonality of Being Woman. Always in the Story, even when we have not had the same experiences, it is the sharing that moves us. In one Woman’s Story of pain or hope or joy or loss, we find something of ourSelf. And we grow. That is True healing. That is how we fill our cup. Whether You are the Story-teller or the Witness. There is something for every Woman in the Red Tent.

And so, this leads us to the renewed, improved and fully awesome Red Tent Experience of 2013. We are diving deep. We are creating Space for Stories with intention. We are allowing room for Women to share and to respond authentically. We are opening a doorway for Women to Witness and find Truth around the Way we speak and respond. And we are Working with the Red Tent, to simply Be.

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Filed under coming of age, friendship, growing up, Guest Blogger, healing, Hollie B., how to create a Red Tent, red tent, sacred space, women's stories

HorMoon Awareness Guide

by Leslie Botha

Click here to download the HorMoon Awareness Guide

HorMoon Awareness Guide

 A new book!

Understanding Your Mind, Mood, and Hormone Cycle was written for women who want to understand the sometimes, confusing physical and psychological changes they experience each month. It is also suggested reading for men who deal with hormonal women daily; and for educators, healthcare and social welfare professionals who support women of all ages that are struggling with physical and behavioral issues caused by hormonal changes. It is the product of a nine-years of research, analysis, and writing.

Purchase the book for $24.93 on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Your-Mind-Hormone-Cycle/dp/0989010104/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374691726&sr=8-1&keywords=leslie+botha

Purchase the book on amazon

This richly illustrated, pioneering, book is co-authored by Leslie Carol Botha and H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik, with original graphics by Nicholas Batik. Medical researcher, H. Sandra Chevalier-Batik provides extensive clinical background to support the findings of this book. The conversational writing style makes it easy and compelling to read, while the richly footnoted text makes this a valuable resource for professional healthcare providers. The book explores on the very essence of a woman’s being — the fundamental nature of the female hormone cycle; and was written to fill the void of practical, menstrual health education that focuses on understanding the delicate mind/body connection — a connection that has the power to bring about health or disease in the body. Contrary to current medical thinking and pharmaceutical industry messaging that encourages women to deny, ignore, suppress and replace their natural hormone production with synthetic hormone birth control and hormone replacement therapy, Botha and Chevalier-Batik believe that the hormone cycle is the foundation of women’s health and well being. Modern medicine has promoted the concept of specialization, encouraging women to consult specialists to treat isolated aspects of our body and mind, rather than consider our body as an integrated system, and exploring the relationship of the hormone cycle with other cycling systems in our body. Creating health begins with a shift in this perspective to one that recognizes the whole body is greater than the sum of its parts; a shift that recognizes that health is our birthright and represents our natural state. Such a change in perception can change how we express vibrant health and inner peace. Using the tools and information provided in this book, women can learn to perceive symptoms as biometric feedback from our bodies about our diet, lifestyle and the state of our mental, emotional, and spiritual self. These symptoms are the “tell” for conditions such as: hormone imbalances, depression, mental confusion, exhaustion, autoimmune disorders, allergies, and reproductive disorders. The purpose of this book, is to help you tap into the magnificent intelligence of your body and interpret its profound language to finally understand your mind, mood, and hormone cycle. Using the tools and exercises provided you will learn to live with in your hormone cycle to prevent re-occurring gynecological problems and mental/emotional imbalances; Perhaps for the first time in your life, you will feel like you can reach your full potential by acknowledging your strength and who you truly are. It is our goal to open your eyes to the real you — a woman who can trust herself, has confidence in her actions, understands her feelings and knows how to create a fulfilling life by living with her hormone cycle With brilliant simplicity, the authors tie the menstrual cycle into the other natural cycles of the universe and to the Paleolithic wise women who tracked their cycles on antler bones. These wise women understood that menstruation was vital natural cycle that held power. These foremothers became the first mathematicians, agriculturists, and healers by applying their menstrual wisdom to their culture’s survival. It is imperative that we understand all of the cycles in our lives. Women must be pro-active in all aspects of their wellness. Education and the willingness to ask questions and demand answers is a start.

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Filed under ageing, and Hormone Cycle, beauty, coming of age, growing up, Guest Blogger, healing, Leslie Botha, Menopause, menstruation, menstruation history, Mood, moon, mooncycle, moontime, PMS, Post Menopausal, Reproductive Health, Understanding Your Mind