I've been feeling deeply reminded of why I began the Women's Gatherings over this past weekend.
As part of our human nature we carry and experience a lot of pain. We also carry and experience a tremendous amount of joy and happiness and love. What I have been reminded of, is that our culture doesn't hold a lot of space to cope with and experience the pain. It ends up getting contained or confined and simmers in the depths of us.
Everyone is so busy keeping up with the plethora of things and to do's, no matter how much we love and care for one another it's often hard to create the container that is needed for our loved ones when they are in a space of deep pain or crisis. Our culture isn't designed for us to drop everything and be with them. And when things crumble, which they do, we are left in solitude to some degree.
Sometimes, all we need is to be witnessed and held in our mess. We need to be seen in a way that we are not broken, but that we are only human. We don't need to be fixed, we need it to be okay that we unravel. Sometimes a good cry and talking it out to someone who simply listens is all it takes. Sometime just listening to one another's process is enough-it makes us feel connected to realize we are all living in the world experiencing the same but different pains and joys.
The share circle in these gatherings have deepened over the months and it resonates in me deeper each time the importance of it. It is not to dwell in our sorrows but to let them flow through us so we can be freed from their weight. So we can be seen, feel connected, trust what is flowing through us, and so we can find safety in being vulnerable.
To find clarity of what nourishes, we must first decipher what we are choosing to nourish.
We must sift through our priorities and what we really want in this life. What are we comfortable letting go of? What must we let go of to create the time, space and energy to actually tend to our deepest values? We must learn to dance with the present moment and the big picture at the same time.
There are different realms in our lives to be nurtured and it is ultimately up to us to decided what we feed. It takes sifting through and finding balance, to make sure we are not losing our center, our footing, our clarity.
There are our loved ones. Our most cherished relationships. There is the realm of joy, laughter, simplicity and enjoying the physical realm of the earth and our bodies. There is the emotional realm and personal growth, working with our shadows and our deepest wounds and seeing where we are creating suffering and self-sabotage. There are our basic needs of survival - a roof over our head, food and water. Then there are our passions, our gifts, what we feel we have been given to share with the world. Those things we carry deep in our bones, our blood, our souls.
From here we must sift.
We must decided step by step what is most important. And then we can discern what will feed these pillar points in our lives. This is where the integrity emerges. It is one thing to know what we need, and hear the voice of our innate wisdom. It’s a whole other realm to truly honor it. To truly abide by it. It's delicate and voluptuous dance.
Beautiful imagery by Leticia Isabel. I adore her art. You can find her on instagram here.
The birth of the Women’s Gatherings came from a craving to experience a deep, raw connection with other women, a craving for community, a craving for the power of the womb to be reclaimed and honored. It came from a craving for more ceremony and a craving to have a sacred space to rest in together and a craving to clear the personal and collective trauma of the womb and the divine feminine within that we all share in some form or another. Historically, women have gathered together and the time has come to reestablish this tradition so greatly needed.
I thank Lora Munn, my dear friend for being the midwife of this offering. We offered these gatherings for the first 8 months or so before I began to hold them on my own. I feel so blessed to have had her come into my life and take on the feeding of this craving together. She is a Mamma of three beautiful children and her heart called her to retract to allow more time with her family. I feel she blessed the space with her genuine heart before stepping out and leaving it with me to carry on. I will always thank her for that.
I have a history of facilitating Maya Full Moon Women’s Ceremonies since a couple years back. These ceremonies deeply involve the medicine of cacao and it is the Maya lineage that I have studied Womb Healing. Though the Women’s Gatherings are not this particular ceremony, this is where I built my relationship with the spirt of cacao and the spirit of the womb. I want to thank and honor my teachers Katie-Keath Silva, Ann Drucker, the Goddess IxChel who these Maya ceremonies are in name of, as well as Miss Beatrice Torres Waight - Maya Medicine Woman and dear friend of Katie-Keath and Ann’s who’s family the Maya Women’s Ceremony came from.
I hold this space with the intention for women to allow themselves to let go, where they can be held and hold one another. A space where they can connect and let spirit flow through them, a space for them to journey to their womb and find their power, voice, and wisdom within. My intention is to hold a space for you to release, receive and surrendered to the healing that is awaiting you.
These gatherings come from deep within my heart and it is an honor to hold this space and share what has been shared with me.
I have been seeing this everywhere and I don't know quite why it's taken me so long say it myself. Everything I offer is around providing a platform for women to speak. Here this came, two simple words and I’m surprised how hard it was to type.
The shame I still feel has been illuminated even though I know “better" than to feel shame. It's illuminated the impact of being ostracized. Ostracized by people I love very much for speaking up. I know it's not out of cruelty or lack of love. It's not simple at all, it’s very complex. Nobody wants to believe anybody they love is capable of such a thing and regardless which end of the story you lie on, it hurts incredibly.
I can see in every person who has violated me physically or verbally, who have not stopped when I said no, who have objectified me, mocked me, catcalled me and those have gotten aggressive with me to keep me mouth shut - I can see It's beyond them. I know it’s not personal. It is deeply systemic. I see how the web travels, not that it makes the behaviors excusable by any means but I see how it happens. It’s interwoven through the whole human race in every culture, every gender, every class and just about every age.
It’s everywhere. Some of it’s ignorance, some of it’s media, some of it’s been passed on generation after generation. The list goes on and on.
The pain goes both ways. And it goes deep.
In some ways we have come so, so far and in some ways it blows my mind what is still happening. It feels good to say what I have, there is so much I haven’t said and still feel vulnerable and scared to say anything at all.
To the men. I know you are the central target when it comes to this topic and I also know there are many amazing men. Men who have been saviors by being a healthy role model of what a man can be to the women who have never experienced that. I hope you know how invaluable you are.
Lastly, I would like to say “me too,” for all of those who it’s safer to endure than speak, to all of those who don’t feel the value because they have already taken more backlash than they can handle and for all of those that are too young to speak, to scared to speak or to ashamed to speak.
With love, to every single one of us.
Over the past few years I have been graciously held in the hands of teachers who have had a profound impact on my life, facilitated deep soul healing within me and have helped me cultivate and nurture the seeds of the shamanic ways within.
These teachers have shared their lifework with me. Work that has come from their pursuit of incredibly hard work, dedication and they've carried and cultivated what has been passed to them from many teachers before, selflessly passing it forward.
I want to honor and thank those who have taught me, as well as the lineages, families and beings that these teaching have come from. I am forever grateful to have received what has been shared with me and I want to express that full heartedly.
Katie-Keath Silva was my grace of the Gorge. They tucked me under their wings as an apprentice and I studied with them Shamanic Healing, Womb Healing and went through a ceremonial training with them and Ann Drucker to hold traditional Yucateca Maya Full Moon Women’s Ceremonies in the name of the Goddess Ix Chel. They shared with me the Maya ways that were taught to them from Miss Beatrice Torres Waight, a dear friend and Maya Medicine Woman as well as Don Jose Tamay, a Maya Shaman from the Yucatan of Mexico.
I had never encountered someone who so selflessly shared the gems of their life work with such an open heart and divine trust. Katie-Keath introduced me to Ix Chel, the Maya goddess of the moon, the womb, women's healing and much more. They held space for me to remember the shamanic ways and to ignite what was within me to do healing work with other women and myself.
Katie-Keath taught me to commune with the spirits of the plants and use them for healing. Camilla Blossom Bishop introduced me to the realm of flowers, their spirit and ability to heal. I use essences every day and have found a deep love in learning to make them communing with the flowers themselves. I thank Camilla for bringing that into my life.
Christine Selda came into my life recently though it feels much longer. I began a Shamanic Yoga Teacher Training and medicine wheel with her in February and came out with a deep connection to the mountains and the earth in a different way than I ever had. She taught me that ayni is the underlying principle of all, living in right relationship with all beings and the land we walk on. She’s taught me the power of mantra and mudra and to see asana as a dance, an offering to creator, to the sun, the mountains and the earth. She taught yoga as a way to open my energetic channels so that I can hear spirits call, so that I can make my body strong enough to withstand spirits will to flow through me.
My perspective of life and my way of living has shifted. My energetic body has shifted. The healing that I experienced in her presence freed my soul from things I thought were bound to me for the rest of my life. My gratitude is infinite for that and my time with her changed me in the best kind of way forever more.
Now, I have come to a time of integration. Mulching in the things that have cultivated this shamanic awakening and digesting them in a way I can honor the roots, and find my authentic path of allowing it to move through me humble and free.
To the long line of light carriers.
With love, Abby
Links provided by clicking on each name...
Katie-Keath Silva, Ann Drucker, Miss Beatrice-Torres Waight, Camilla Blossom Bishop, Christine Selda
I remember being a little girl and rolling around in the dirt on a regular basis. I played so hard. Pretending I was a princess or more often a horse with my best friend and deciphering exactly what color I was and what my mane was like. I remember playing mermaids in the pool and picking in extreme detail what color the scales of my fin and my hair were. I made stews and potions out of flowers and the tree buds and leaves and would dress my cat and bunnies up as if they were my children. I loved to mother.
I recently found my old journals and have been able to go back into this young girls world as boys started become infatuating and my friends started to get there first period and I was jealous I hadn't yet. Getting my first bra and shaving my legs. First kisses, moving away from home, traveling the world and getting to know myself outside of the given environment I started this life in.
Since those beginning days, there are parts of me that have dampened and are ready to come back to life. There are parts of me that weren't true to my heart and instead ideas, perspectives and beliefs that were handed to me in some way or another. Then, there are those pieces of me I look back and see in that little girl and also see in me now, realizing what has always been there. I'm finding which parts of me are from the original seed of my existence that are fueling my heart the most.
Artist unknown, please comment if you know who can be credited for this glorious image!
Since dancing between the masculine and feminine and letting them find there groove together I have had quite a few epiphanies about myself and the way I function.
One was around thinking the masculine was all about doing, pushing and making things happen. To some extent this is true. But, what really showed up for me was that the masculine is the space holder of my soul and protector of my soul with no tolerance for the villains of fear or doubt. It showed up to protect the beauty within me, refusing to let it's original glory be dimmed.
It was as though he was a knight fighting to free a princess locked away in a castle like we often lock away parts of ourselves that for some reason or another grew to believe weren't good enough or acceptable or didn't deserve to live free in the world.
The masculine showed up as boundaries defining the line between aggression and assertiveness, rest and laziness, grief and self pity or self loathing. The masculine showed up as the one encouraging me to bring to fruition what was already flowing within me. Not pushing me to make things happen that weren't already sprouting in my heart.
It showed up to remind me of the confidence I should have in myself, to engrain in me that I am worthy of my deepest desires and to ensure me that my intuition is the almighty wisdom that should never be questioned.
Being held by this kind of love, acceptance and reverence could fill anybody's heart. It could give us all the courage to do anything. This is the fuel for the passion that will makes us push, and take action and make our beloved dreams come to fruition.
Imagine a world where we could all hold each other like this in non-judgement, with pure love and imagine a world where we could all open our hearts with trust to be held just the way we are.
To the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine within all of us.
My spiritual path cracked open when I started practicing yoga regularly and it provoked deep emotional releases. I became infatuated by the relationship between my emotional and physical armoring. I soon pursued Massage after realizing I could facilitate the same type of releases I was experiencing in yoga by holding space and manipulating the physical body to open and clear the energetic channels that hold our emotional wounds and blockages. My healing path evolved from there as my own healing unraveled through an array of modalities that helped me discover and heal myself. This journey is still unraveling and I'm sure always will be.
The summer of 2015 I started a ceremonial training with Katie-Keath Silva and Ann Drucker to be immersed in the way of facilitating traditional Yucateca Maya Full Moon Women’s Ceremonies. These teachings were passed to them from Miss Beatrice Torres Waight, a Maya Medicine Woman from Belize and and Don Jose Tamay, a shaman elder from the Yucatan of Mexico. This particular ceremony is dedicated to a Maya Goddess Ix Chel and involves the sweet medicine of cacao. I don’t have words to express what this ceremony has been for me, all I can say is that is has been magical beyond words.
My own spiritual awakening or journey of self discovery began in Guatemala in 2008. I stumbled across a retreat that ended with a Maya Full Moon Ceremony that completely changed my life. I was introduced to yoga, meditation, metaphysics and ceremony for the first time. It was the beginning of me shedding depression, anxiety and eating disorders that I had battled my whole life and the beginning of discovering the deeply embedded traumas and wounds that were hiding within me. I began falling in love with myself and actually getting to know myself more clearly than I ever had before. This ceremonial training and apprenticeship with Katie-Keath and Ann had brought everything full circle. This is what I was meant to do and this year has been one of the most transformational years of my life.
Ix Chel, the Maya Goddess of water, fertility and the divine feminine has awakened my relationship to the sacred feminine, my womb and has helped me reclaim my power as a woman. Katie-Keath explained to me that to dedicate yourself to Ix Chel meant to dedicate yourself to impeccable self care. They explained that, she is you and you are her. Just as every other god or goddess. I was dedicating myself, to myself. To me that is what spirituality is all about. Honoring ourselves, honoring the earth, the plants and the animals and honoring each other. When we truly honor ourselves it is then that are hearts can open. Open to love and be loved. Open to nurture and be nurtured. We can then tap into our innate wisdom and live in alignment with our most genuine inner truth and crack open our full potential to offer our greatest gifts to the world. There is something of greater power in this world that can’t necessarily be understood and I don’t believe it is something that we need to understand, though it is something to trust and have faith in. Accepting the lack of understanding is a beauty in itself.
Every aspect of this Maya ceremony has infiltrated my life. The plants have become close friends. The water, the fire, the wind and the earth as well. I would guess most people have experienced a bad day of stress, grief, anger or heartache and have either jumped into the ocean or a lake, walked barefoot on the earth, smelled a bouquet of flowers or walked through a forest and suddenly felt the weights upon them lift. Nature has a profound healing power and the layers of this magic have continued to expose themselves to me in all sorts of ways.
The plants are a huge aspect of what I have been learning with Katie-Keath. I have been learning Maya healing in particular, though many of the things I’m learning are a foundation in traditions all around the world – honor the womb, the earth, the elements and all beings including the plants and animals.
In Maya healing the plants are used to brush the body. Imagine lying down with incense, singing bowls, drums or chimes playing above you and having something like a full bouquet of lemon balm or mint being brushed all over your body. The sweet scent in your face and the soft leaves on your cheek. Having your womb cared for by massaging the stomach to bring the uterus to balance. Essential oils, massage, crystals and singing. A time for you to set a healing intention of something that you would like to release, manifest or find clarity on and having a whole session revolve around that intention. It is magical and nourishing beyond words. It feels magical and nourishing beyond words to offer it as well.
Having the plants to bathe in, brush myself with, sleep with under my pillow, consume in tea, burn as incense, use as medicine for my body, mind and soul has been priceless. I have begun making flower essence, deepening a new relationship with my garden and the forest, taking and making more herbal medicine. It has been an outlet of healing that has been able to reach a layer of my soul I was not able to access before.
I feel like the luckiest girl alive. It has been such a gift to receive this healing for myself and such a joy to share this with other women in the world, my partner, community and loved ones. I feel whole being able to address the body and spirit as one. I could not be happier with where this path is taking me and I could not be more excited to share it with the world.
April 7th, 2016
This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?”
The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness. They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia. They sing incredibly well and sometimes are even on CD’s. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defends and admires.
Mermaids do not exist.
But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish? They would have no sex life and could not bear children. Yes, they would be lovely but lonely and sad. And who wants a girl that smells like a fish by their side?
Without a doubt, I’d rather be a whale.
At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.
We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn’t enough space in all our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.
We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated. Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself ‘How amazing am I?!’ “
Restrictions often lead to rebellion – in any context.
I would say this is the biggest reason diets fail. Cleanses and diets have a tendency to give people a sense of empowerment. It feels good to take such control. For some people, strict eating habits work great periodically, but for others it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
If you cringe at the thought of fasting or feel yourself stop breathing a bit when you think about your future diet plan, it’s a red flag. I want to give you different options to approach cleansing and changing your diet that won’t make you feel crazy around food! It’s time that somebody drilled into your head that a gentle version can be just as successful and powerful as a strict approach if not more so in the long run. There are a few things you should be aware of to keep food from becoming a treacherous journey!
Potential problems with cleansing and diets…
1. Restrictions trigger rebellion- aka binging.
2. Cleansing physically will cleanse you emotionally. When you’re emotions are highly charged it can trigger you to use food as comfort.
3. Eating in a strictly structured way can negatively morph your perspective of ‘good and bad foods.’ When you reintegrate foods after being on a certain plan it can then make you feel bad about foods that you never thought of as ‘bad’ before.
4. One ‘cheating’ moment can make you feel like you then need to indulge in anything and everything since you already screwed up.
5. If you have a history of eating disorders, restrictions can flare up old habits.
All of these things are red flags that your approach is not working anymore. You have not done anything wrong, it’s just time to reevaluate what your original intention was and how you can restructure your plan to be more supportive of this. Don’t get sucked into the black hole of defeat just recognize what’s happening and make a choice to readjust.
What to do when the red flags come out? Focus on adding the good stuff in and forget about the naughty list.
Guilt, shame and disappointment will do much more harm then a piece (or bar) of chocolate will ever do. In some way, having restrictions is a way is setting yourself up to fail. It’s creating a wagon to fall off of. Instead of thinking about what you can’t eat, focus on nourishing foods and activities that feel easy and exciting opposed to the ones that feel like a task.
– If you don’t want to get on the treadmill, go sit in a sauna.
– If you don’t want to cut out chocolate try a healthier, homemade version of raw chocolate.
– Don’t feel like a juice fast? Massages are must more detoxifying than most realize.
– Talking with a close friend is emotionally cleansing and so if laughing!
– Can’t bare to think about food…clean house and switch to all natural hygienic and household cleaning products.
Another way is to start by focusing on making one meal idea that is under the guidelines you are going for. This way you get comfortable grocery shopping and cooking without having to think too hard and stress yourself out. Once it begins to feel like second nature then you can start doing two meals and then three. This method works if you want to try a whole new way of eating or cut something out like sugar or dairy.
If you need a little extra support, I’m always here! Nutrition is about nourishing you body, mind and soul. It’s beyond food. Don’t waste your time beating yourself and your body up. Make peace with yourself and peace with your food!