A Religion of Her Own

It might be easy to say
I came to this place
In search of my self,
Only – that couldn’t be true.

I know who I am, this woman in me.
We are an infinitely intimate love affair.

The truth would be
I came here to feel
With intensity
The flames of her holy burning fire.

I came to this place to claim for my self
And on behalf of others,
Yet another gathering up of her pieces.

Smattered like crumbs from there to here;
A guide through the senses
To her inner castle of sweetness.

I met her there:
The radiance within my self.

Together we danced
On a warm spring breeze,
Playing hide and seek
In the mighty grove of pines.

Hand and hand we walked naked as One,
Through the glistening kiss of golden sun rays.

Sun Kissed

Calling grace and tenderness
As midwives to serve
In the holy unveiling of my deepest love.

My Divine Beloved
Is for me Everywhere.

In my words
And the rain
Through my food
And the arts,
You entered my body.

My Sacred Heart
Splayed apart,
Pierced by the holy sword
Of your fierce love.

I came here for this,
To meet you
And feel you.

Making love together
As the bird and tree,
As both sun and moon,
Asleep
And awake.

I came here for you
To whisper the song
Of re-member-ance
Into my being.

Drawing me in more deeply
To you
And to me.
Each of us – my Beloved.

 

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Illness is my Lover

I’m a woman who demands her lovers. They’re a necessary part of my life and have been for as long as I can remember. I crave and thrive upon the sensual stirrings, the intimacy, the deep connection to something that is greater than anything else this life has to offer. So imagine my surprise recently when illness began her sultry seduction.

We’re attuned to illness being something to ‘get rid off.’ During the two weeks I laid quietly and gently on the couch, there were some who shared their thoughts of what ‘to take’ or how to ‘get better.’ Only – I wasn’t trying to get better. Just a day or two in to the emptiness I felt in my body, I opted to give myself fully to the fatigue and congestion. Each time my mind wanted to mourn the discomfort or wonder just how long we would have to do this, I returned to a state of surrender to this place of rest, of nothingness, of stillness and separation from all that exists in the ‘real world.’ I gave myself full permission to be ill.

It goes against our grain in some way. We’re used to surrendering to something that feels ‘spiritual’ or ‘good.’ We’re not so accustomed to letting ourselves be sick. It feels like something must be ‘wrong with us.’ And yet, for me my illness served as a mystical doorway. While everything else in my physical world stood still – the doing, the taking care of others, the need to cook or clean or write or speak – intense movement took shape through my interior world. Relationships changed, my ‘work’ focus streamlined and some of what I had felt so passionate about during the last several months began to lose the pulse of Life my soul requires in order to feel alive. Even in my illness, in the tired state of my physical body, I could feel the vitality of my soul.

Mariska Karto Illness

Illness is my lover – was my lover. She has left for now. It came to me as I neared the end of our affair together – I had given myself completely to her. I knew that – I felt that with full clarity in all of my being. And just as clear was the message it was time to let her go. Our heated passion was over. My body called me to come back into myself fully. And with as much fervor I shifted my energy and now gave myself fully to me.

I actually loved the time during which I felt so unwell. It was a mystical journey deep into myself, with only myself. We are gifted so many lovers in this life, and too often we miss the juice they offer to us. I’ve never in my life felt illness in my being as I did these last two weeks. There are layers of what she brought to me, how she impacted me on very deep levels, what I both released and embraced in myself. I’ll be writing more about this in my book.

For now, I leave you with this. Everything and anything that comes to you has the power to become your lover, to engage all of your senses in a mad, torrid affair of love that will pierce your heart and sear your soul. Surrender into it. Let yourself lie with deep pleasure, feeling the fullness of who you are. THIS is the mystic’s journey – making love with the sacred at every turn.

How I Make Love

Earlier this month, my husband and I traveled to the southern coast of Maine where we have a summer cottage. Our charming retreat was built for his grandparents by his father, nearly fifty years ago. My husband has cherished memories of spending summers there when he was a boy, doted on and adored by his grandmother and grandfather both, and I’ve grown to love being in this beautiful place as much as he does. As soon as we turn down the marsh road leading toward the ocean, we each feel ourselves breathe in the salt air, even as we exhale anything that might carry the least bit of weight in our hearts and minds. It’s exquisite, each time we make this journey, once in summer and again in the fall.

And with each step into the magic portal of our time there, I find myself different than when I entered. I step back into our life here in Atlanta with a deeper and awakened awareness of myself. Everything feels changed. There is a piece of myself that is released even as another pure facet of my soul’s crystal turns to glimmer in the light of who I am.

Part of our ritual together while at the coast, my husband and I, is to walk along the shore’s edge, stopping to take in the beauty of New England homes nestled beautifully against each other, watching seagulls as they fly and dive, casting their enchantment upon the sand; leaving us breathless, in awe of all that surrounds us, of the majesty and mysteries that whisper here amongst the salty mist.


I could feel a sense of intimacy as we came upon flocks of sandpipers dancing with the waves. As the water flowed in, they ran toward the shore; and with each receding wave, moved in synchronized flow back toward the water. They were glorious in their natural rhythm, and I was completely entranced by these funny little birds, by their utter surrender to the call of the waves and of what might lie beneath the waters with each ebb and flow.

My husband went to sit on the bench for a bit, soaking up the sunshine and soothing sound of waves. I stayed and watched the sandpipers in their dance, seduced by the sweetness of how they played with Life. As I stood there, watching, waiting to see them once again take wing and fly together in search of the next wave, I thought ‘this is how I make love to the world.’ And in truth – how the world makes love to us. We have only to stop long enough to feel the penetration, to engage in the foreplay that is present in every moment, in every heartbeat of stillness and rhythmic movement alike. I am a lover of this Life, of the beauty, grace, pleasure and elegance it offers to us at every turn. And I believe with all I am, that She too is a Lover of me.

Language of the Body

Censorship perpetuates shame, which in turn fosters ignorance. And ignorance prevents change. So it’s a very dangerous trajectory to shy away from the language of the body.  ~ Dr. William Masters, ‘Masters of Sex’

As a young girl I knew what it was to feel the truth burning in my body, even as from the pulpit our pastor taught it was wrong, even sinful, to trust our feelings – the very FEELINGS that originate and emanate from our bodies. Much like in the movie Footloose I was raised in the belief that the body will always betray you through its lusty desires and abandoned surrender into temptation. And anything that wasn’t deemed pure was considered to be temptation. That is – pure through the eyes of some presupposed ‘law’ that is fully outside oneself rather than originating from our strongest Source – within.

Burning-Man-Day-1 (897 of 1210)-X3
Burning Man, Day 1 by Trey Ratcliff

The language of the body. For me it’s complex, multi-layered with seduction, sensuality, purity, wisdom, grace and ancient intelligence. My body beautifully guides me into the spaces where I feel potent, passionate love – the kind that links both hearts and bodies alike. My body is my greatest authority on what is healthy for me. I have only to check in when eating food to feel whether it will settle well or not. My body knows when I need more rest and when movement and flow are what will most benefit my overall well being. My body is a clear indicator of what is called for in order to sink deeper into the wildness that continually calls to me, the nakedness I – and I believe so many of us if not all, desire to walk through this life wearing.

Censorship perpetuates shame. Feel the truth in that. When we censor what we feel in our bodies to only that which is ‘acceptable,’ we shut down a part of who we truly are. Our truth lives deep in our bodies, in our hearts, our souls, our gut instincts – all of which are housed within our physical bodies in some way. Each is connected to a greater network of mystical knowledge and presence, and yet we individually here on this planet carry that same intelligence and engage in dialogue with it through our own BODIES. This, this is the language of the body. It lives and breathes in every cell, every heart beat, every orgasmic moment, every zenlike experience. It can be wild and raging as a lioness and equally soft and gentle as whisper.

Time to release our shame by dropping the censorship – of who we are, what we feel, how we express ourselves and all that we carry in the beautiful holy sanctuary that is our body. It’s time to step fully into the language of our bodies; to understand there is a living, breathing Entity that we are, and we ALONE contain the highest intelligence of what is needed, of what is ‘right’ and acceptable for our own personal journey on this planet. There is no greater authority to guide us. We are it. We are the Divine, sovereign Voice of what is true, what is authentic, what is beautiful in our lives, in our selves. There is no greater knowledge or higher authority. And it’s time we really sink into that reality and operate from a new place of holding ourselves in such high regard.

I Could Weep….

I found her book quite by accident – Sera Beak’s ‘Red Hot & Holy: A Heretics Love Story.‘ It’s just one of so many pieces falling into place at this time in my life, and frankly, I’m not sure I was ready before now.

There’s so much I want to say around this, so please bear with me as it begins pouring out. Feels like I’ve mentioned to you here before that years ago I asked one of my spiritual teachers why it was that every time I felt the fullness of the Divine, it left me heated, hungry, filled with a fire that it seemed was only about sex and all those ‘ugly’ labels we’ve put on Her. We were in the midst of an intense workshop – The Sacred Marriage of Mysticism and Yoga. I had been rocked to my core by a profound union with the Sacred during that time, after which I asked this question: ‘What is it about this energy that leaves me feeling so attracted to men, to what feels lustful in myself?’ It wasn’t the first time I was aware of this energy within – I have loved boys especially since being a little girl. I’ve loved kissing them, being with them, writing love letters to them, being intimate in every way possible–on and on I could go. What I know now, is this isn’t just about ‘boys’ or ‘sex.’ It isn’t any of those lies that have been forced upon it, upon US: slut, cheap whore, promiscuous, impure, acting inappropriately, being too much in our feelings, too beautiful, clothes too tight, hips sway too much, too flirtatious, too much laughter, too seductive, too revealing, too much of this or that. All lies. How could we possibly be too much of anything that flows so naturally from within?

These lies were pounded into us over and over again – and so we began to believe them, adjusting who we are, ‘taming down’ our inner fires because it made others uncomfortable. And I’m not talking about just ‘sex’ here. I’m talking about a heat that begins in the depths of our soul, that sets our hearts on fire with mad love. I’m talking about being so full of Divine Feminine Force we must find an outlet for Her, she must breathe and express through us in the ways that are most organic to our passionate natures. No more lies, my friends. We live our truth. NOW.

I’m no longer a ‘good little church girl’ or a child living under the fear of my parents’ experience and programming (and it was the same for them, so no blame here). I’m a grown woman who is coming into a place of understanding what this is about. And the answer is not ‘sex.’ Nor is it about insecurities that lead to needing sex and male attention to be ok. It’s not about my father leaving when I was five. I have done the work and healed those places in myself – and yet this flame of passion and desire remains. It’s about longing to feel Sacred Love so fully and completely we experience it in every way possible. For me, for my contract in this life, for the energies I carry in this time and place, that’s connected to a hunger to connect with Her so intimately, so passionately, so completely that She is whispering to me of that which stirs my senses. And I must answer Her NOW.

heart-on-fire

The day I asked my teacher that question, with an open innocence and more than a little confusion, the only reply was something like ‘my dear, it would take me hours to explain that to you.’ This being who exhibited such a fiery passion, perhaps the first real mystic I’d ever met and known in my life, who left me feeling the heated flames in every cell of my body – had no answer for me. It left me bewildered. I realize now, I had to find the answer myself. I had to come to this place where I was healed enough, mature enough–OPEN enough to receive the truth. And I don’t mind telling you that although I’m sharing my heart here, there remains a small thread of trepidation in doing so around this subject and in such a personal way. And because of that, I sense there is still a shred of ‘safe’ in this telling as well–for now.

When many mystics felt the Divine, they literally felt turned on, erotically speaking. ~ Sera Beak

So with great anticipation I’m going to read this book, because it calls to me, it makes me weep sometimes with the recognition of myself in this ‘Heretic’s Love Story.’ For there are reflections of my own inner truth glaring back at me. There is a beautiful release and inner knowing that accompanies my desire to be free of the old programming. One by one, I feel the lies unraveling inside of me….

I don’t believe for a moment there aren’t some of you feel your own pang of knowing as you read this. I know there are so many of us who have been quieted, who have turned our feelings down, stifled our passion away in a safe, neat box. But although She whispers still, there is a beautiful, awakening ROAR that lurks in the shadows. It is there, beloveds, that we find our purest selves, liberated by our truth, our fires, our willingness to be alive in it, expressing Her in whatever way She desires. I’d love to hear your stories…..

If you wish, I invite you to consider joining a free Sacred Circle Retreats call later today Your Succulent Chakras. This is a bold step for me in my work, but with the confidence and passion of my collaborator Lynn Jaussi, I feel a whole new space opening up. You can also listen to the replay at any time using the same link. 

I’m also very passionate about my ‘baby,’ the AWAKENING WOMAN series about to begin. This has been part of my vision, and although perhaps a bit more tame, it will still ignite the fires that burn in the depths of your being. 

 

 

The Art of Allowing

Oh my, it feels as though I have so much to say after not writing here for quite some time. I always know it’s time to return–when I’m having conversations with you all in my mind.

I wonder if you feel what I do at just this time–a great shifting in how Life experiences you, and in turn how you experience it–but in the most subtle of ways. Undoubtedly many of us are continuing to move through the spiral of our own journey, unearthing pieces of ourselves, dismantling layers of beliefs and barriers no longer needed. But what has occurred for me over the last couple of months feels quite extraordinary, in the most simple of ways.

Gorgeous Beach Roses, overlooking the marsh at Moody, Maine.
Gorgeous Beach Roses, overlooking the marsh at Moody, Maine.

It’s the first time–EVER–I was on my own for a few weeks this summer, and it was extraordinary. My husband’s father passed away three years ago, and his mother just this January. That leaves my husband as the ‘elder’ in his family, which in itself is quite surreal. There were two properties to be managed – her home to be sorted through, cleaned out and put on the market to sell – and a family cottage on the coast of Maine to be transferred into our ownership and oversight as it’s also a rental property. A friend and I traveled together up to New England and spent a week cleaning, packing, making repairs in the home to be sold. Our time together was filled with laughter, lots of dust and we even managed to get in a few nights out on the town. She then went on to visit family in Canada and I spent the next week by myself at the beach cottage.

I don’t quite have all the words to describe this experience, but I know it changed me in ways I’m not yet aware. When I met my husband nearly 22 years ago, we fell in love and married within less than a year. I moved from my parents’ home to his. So being in this sacred place I love so much and having it all to myself as the energetic shift in ownership occurred was a beautiful gift. I loved every minute. My dear friend Joss unknowingly spoke what’s true in my heart – Moody Beach is a healing space for me. In years past, it has felt very much in my awareness. This year, it was much more as though I was simply allowing myself to love each moment for what it was. There wasn’t anything BIG or earth-shattering that I felt or recognized inwardly. The movement has been subtle, beautiful, gentle. And I feel that is the energy currently settling into our consciousness as the old paradigm of fear and ‘doing the right thing’ march silently out of focus.

There’s so much I could say, but I do tend to write long posts already, so will try to simplify. I have witnessed the delicate grace having a similar impact on several occasions–moving my spirit when I wasn’t even aware it was happening. First, after a week by myself, I was uncertain if I was ready for my family to arrive. We return to Moody Beach each summer – sometimes just my husband and I, other times the kids will go with us; this year everyone journeyed north. They would fly in on Tuesday, but Sunday evening and even a bit on Monday morning I was concerned I might not be so happy to see them. A gentle breeze of grace shifted my feelings as Monday went on – and I felt a bit lonely accompanied by a longing to connect with my family. When they landed on Tuesday, my heart leapt with joy to see these amazing beings who chose me for their wife and mother.  I felt – and still do – quite amazed with how my emotions and heart moved just as was needed in those moments.

On a brilliantly warm and sunny Friday afternoon, I walked to the nearby marsh to find a large flock of geese enjoying the high tide. They reminded me....'you do not have to be good.'
On a brilliantly warm and sunny Friday afternoon, I walked to the nearby marsh to find a large flock of geese enjoying the high tide. They reminded me….’you do not have to be good.’

Similar experiences happened when it was time for the kids to go, for us to come home from the beach and most recently with my work. My husband and I would spend the remaining week together in New England, and although I so looked forward to that, I felt pangs of grief as I watched my children walk towards their gate for the flight home. When we traveled back home to Atlanta over two days’ journey, I wasn’t so sure coming ‘home’ would be welcome. Halfway through day two, I sensed the shift and desire to be in my beautiful Atlanta HOME once again. And with Sacred Circle Retreats – upon leaving closing out our Spring Program in May, I felt burnt out, unsure about continuing this forward. That feeling of uncertainty seemed to increase as my distance from the work and community did. Just a few weeks ago I wondered if I would be canceling the Fall Program because my heart was no longer in it. My friend and mentor Fay Hart is always talking about miracles and how they are everywhere. I’m convinced a miracle occurred because the passion for this work, for our Fall Program and the women with whom I’m so honored to work has only grown immensely over the last few weeks and I’m elated to launch our new series of events this evening.

Two quotes come to me in closing. The first I read just this morning and shared on the Sacred Circle Retreats FB page, which then led me to write this post (finally!):

Nonresistance is the key to the greatest power in the universe. Through it, consciousness (spirit) is freed from its imprisonment in form. ~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

The second seems to sum up my summer retreat (because for me it WAS a retreat, they come in many forms, my friends):

You do not have to be good…..
You have only to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. ~ Mary Oliver, Wild Geese poem

Chalice of the Sacred

What does it mean to open my heart? To hear only the rhythm of my own mind, body and spirit in union, not to become absorbed by the voice and false beauty of illusion. To hold receptors of light that shine Divine healing into this world. 

Teach me the grace and beauty of walking my own path. 

Sitting in your chapel today for our last ritual, I felt your spirit so deeply. The sacred heart quickened the pace of my own heart, creating a flutter of birth within–that of the heart opening. I feel your presence so strong, visualizing the rays of the sacred heart spreading as the rays began to grow from my own heart. My legs, too, began to quiver as your sacredness penetrated my being. I was immovable from the energy connecting our souls. Open my heart–I know the rays are to go out from me–how? To whom? 

As I stepped away from our intimate communion, you touched my soul with the light of knowing. You spoke to me softly with the voice of awareness: ‘This child, this is why they are in your life, for the healing you have known they needed and now will bring to them by your light, your words, your knowing. You are their healer–by the grace and light I shine through your spirit.’ 

 

Chartres Chapel of the Black Madonna
Chartres Chapel of the Black Madonna

These are the words I wrote in my journal July 7, 2006 as I sat before the Black Madonna in her chapel of the Chartres Cathedral and later in the garden nearby. I’m not sure I understood what was happening to my soul–indeed my entire life. Upon returning home a depression set in. I believed that while in Chartres I hadn’t seen and felt the miracles of being in the Presence of sacredness, mostly because I was still measuring by comparison. This is just one excerpt from my journal during that week, and all these years later, I’m in awe of how deeply immersed I was in the Sacred. 

Black Madonna of Chartres Cathedral
Black Madonna of Chartres Cathedral

I left Chartres feeling I was to go home and heal my family. They were who the Black Madonna–Mary–referred to as she talked of my work to love my husband and children, to bring them healing. What it took some time to recognize is that first I was to heal my self. I so longed for the intimacy of connection with the Beloved. My turmoil was in believing it was out of my reach. What I can see now is how much shame and self judgment I carried within–for being a female, for my sexuality, for feeling so disconnected from the sacredness of my being. This, loved ones, requires much healing. 

I’m sharing this intimate passage because as my children have grown and two are now off to college, my life has taken a significant shift. These words take on new meaning as I inquired so long ago. The same question has come back around – open my heart, allow the rays to shine from me, but how and to whom? Only this time around, the years of deep inner work have opened a channel of inner knowing. At this time in my life the call is to serve as a chalice of Divine Feminine energy in a way I could never have imagined, but still, it feels familiar. The birth of Sacred Circle Retreats has occurred, and my work now is allowing the rays of light to be shared in a contemporary fashion. 

We’re no longer mystics living within the walls of convents and monasteries. Our work now is to live in the world and allow our lights to shine amongst the people. My passion is to be of service in this way, opening myself as the bridge between those who offer healing and light, and those who like me, are seekers of how to move into the next step of their journey. Through Sacred Circle Retreats, so many facets of my life, my journey, my soul purpose are coming together in a beautiful harmony, and truly, with very little ‘push.’ It’s all flowing into place, and I must tell you my dear friends, how in awe I am. This woman I’ve become was once someone I could only envy. She is strong, confident, courageous, open, vulnerable and willing to stand amongst her peers, to collaborate as equals and not feel threatened for what she might not be. She has learned how to stand in her soul’s truth and sacred ‘power.’ She understands what it is to answer the call. She leaves me breathless…because she has allowed herself to be moved. What over six years ago was such a struggle–the act of surrender, has now become her soul’s desire. 

We can’t know what the Universe has destined for us. As Oprah said – God has so much more for us than we could ever imagine for ourselves. It’s so much bigger than me, so I know it’s not of me, but of the Divine. I’m elated to be doing this work, in this place, in this way, at this time. I’m fully open and continuing to surrender into the arms of the sacred, for I know I am always loved and held with grace. As each step unfolds, it feels more and more miraculous to be following my heart–and for it to be so much more than I ever thought it could be–and so much easier than I ever would have imagined. This, dear loves, this is the beauty of ‘doing the work,’ putting the time in to allow yourself to heal, to open your heart no matter how terrified you are of what you might find there or feel through your own heartache. And this is why I’m called to serve as a channel for the sacred. xo