A Woman Unto Herself ~ An Epic Poem in 6 Parts...Soon to Be 7
In honor of the Divine Feminine in all things 🌹❤️✨
Through the pandemic (2020-2021), I worked steadily on an epic poem called A Woman Unto Herself. I was inspired by T.S. Eliot and Christina Rossetti among others. It currently has six strong passages or movements. A seventh is writing itself through me right now. It occurred to me that I’ve never posted the whole poem in one piece.
I love this poem. It’s haunting and personal and earthy and glorious. It feels so divinely feminine to me. I hope by sharing it here, some of you who need its medicine will find it. I’m also considering publishing it as a book with illustrations. If it speaks to you and you are an illustrator or know one, reach out. I may do the drawings myself, but I also like the idea of collaborating with someone who feels called to work on it together.
I hope you savor it!
A Woman Unto Herself 2020-Present Schuyler Brown I. Invocation Gather. Gather yourself and your loved ones. Gather your friends, especially the witchy ones. And the old lovers, too, you know the ones. Gather the fragments of memory and your long lost selves, (Don’t forget the ancestors with their secret lives.) Gather in the carpeted stand of firs or around the fire, In moonlit meadows under the stars, In the pergola by the pond where the willow sways. And gather the hems of that heavy skirt you no longer wear, but can still recall. Look. Look around you right now. This is the new temple. This view, this room, this body. Whatever it is. However tired you feel of it. However lost you may be. However far from home it may feel. This is the temple, the mosque, the church, the sacred grove. All of this scorched earth is calling to be consecrated. Not by the priest or the bishop. (Nice men, but wholly unprepared for the task.) What is rising is beyond their permission or jurisdiction. Yes. We are the ones to consecrate now. We will sprinkle the holy water from glacial lakes and puddles of rain, From our own blood, sweat, and tears. We are the ones to call every bit of this place holy and mean it. Once all the world was sacred. Now again it must be so. We will start right here. Wake. Wake from the slumber that shuts off experience. Wake from that sleep of death. Wake from the trance of industry that burns your fuel. Wake from the trance of unworthiness. Wake now. You will be busy sleeping when the lightning shatters the dome of your mind. A rude awakening to be sure, but straight to the point. She comes for you. In the dark you will try to orient, but nothing will be in its place... Not even you. No eyes, no nose, no ears, no tongue, no body, no mind. Gone. Gone beyond. Gone way beyond. In the distance, wild cackling... With some effort you find your feet. When they hit the stone floor, you find yourself running through the castle, to the tower. Not running away this time, but towards Her lair. When you find Her, she is more hideous than you feared, but also smaller and more human. Not knowing what to do but acting from the heart, you embrace her wretched form. You pass this test. She dissolves into you, granting you all the power in her possession: primordial womb, void moon, and the depths of winter. That darkness is full of surprises! At dawn you rise twice the woman you were the night before. This is what integration feels like. Listen. Listen to the call of the Goddess in her myriad forms… A housewife in the suburbs begins to sing to the music of the Sirens. A struggling actress masters her emotions with The Empress in the front row. A mother recovers her sensuality drunk on the perfume of Venus. A female executive stops selling all she values by claiming the power of The Priestess. In a cab headed to the airport A woman watches downtown fade away; marveling at the mighty skyscrapers. She is lost in thoughts about power when the Goddess appears as a reflection in the window Kali Ma, Durga Ma, Isis, Ishtar, Inanna... Their face is fierce, fearless, and open. The woman watches light overwhelm the structures of Wall Street, like a giant moon. Her own features transposed in the image until she can no longer tell who is the goddess who is the woman and who is the moon. A promise enters her mind stream then, Compassionate and determined: I will help you become That. II. The Thousand Arms of the Goddess A thousand arms to hold the whole, a thousand forms to ward off fear, a thousand lips to smile through pain, a thousand ways to say Her name! A thousand lives each birth different from the last. A thousand ways to die at the hand of The Goddess. Some of them end in terror... and some in bliss. Either way, the last breath is a kiss. A thousand times I heard the cry of babies for their mother’s milk, of men for mother’s last goodbye, on battlefields of earth and clay. Of course, we long for Her with the intensity of Life itself! Of course, we fear her power! She births, blossoms, and devours. Our first breath and last goodbye. And every orgasm, laugh and sigh. Talk about mother issues. Maiden, mother, crone. She is time and beyond time, but never on our time. Mother of the Buddhas, and the woman tending the fire on the rim of the volcano. The one who came to you when all was lost, a womb of all possibility arising from Nothing. She is The Mystery in all things, But she is found inhabiting most fully: the bodies of women. The Goddess in all her glory! Spinning through space as celestial matter. Drawing moons into orbit. She is the source of all activity and its unfolding. Receptive to the impulse that orchestrates life. Impossibly complex mistress of all that comes and goes. Through us, She bears witness to Herself. Through us, She enacts the epic vision of Her Consort. Electric field and hive of work, her kaleidoscopic heart beats: now...and now...now...and now... Behind her breasts like mountain peaks the earth's tides pull, the fields breathe-- inhale at dawn, exhale at dusk. Heart of insight, heart of sympathy! The embodiment of Wisdom, Sophia. Around the bend and back again. Down into the abyss to collect the treasure. Seven veils drop. Seven powers granted. So she can spread Unconditional Love: The maiden’s amour, The sister’s friendship, The mother’s love, The crone’s omniscient guidance, Love everlasting and without attachment, That shines through the eyes and smile Of a woman who knows firsthand how life works. And death, too. In time she will illuminate all the truths that seem obvious only once they are revealed. This wisdom is passed woman to woman. Where the chain breaks, so does a heart. We must teach our daughters how to hold their power. We must teach them yes and no. How to discern right from wrong, In the moment according to The Laws they hold in their bones. Not those made by Man; especially a few men. Arrogance is Her irritation; like a splinter under Her soft skin of light. Even Her wrath is wisdom. She will pull the rug out from under your conditional confidence. In a flash, what you thought you knew, what you were sure you had in your possession, is stripped away. Humility is the only way now. You think you know what’s going on here? Yeah? Well, let me show you yet another layer Of the Reality you can’t yet handle. Her magnificence is terrifying… And you know you earned this scare with your smallness. She leans in close and wraps her arms around you In your ear the whisper of a compassionate command: Stop editing your life. Quiet now, She rocks the baby on the porch in the evening glow. Twilight language on Her lips, a strand of hair hanging low. And through the years those hands will hold the growing hand of that same child. Never letting go even as she blesses their journey with the softest kiss and the strongest urge to go, see, do and be. She will always, always be here as home. III. She Speaks I am the space between, within, and among us. I am unseen and I am Radiance. I am warmth and I am Grief. I am fierce and I am Ecstasy. In my knowing, I am Wisdom. In my essence, I am Irresistible. I am Love, the possibility of Loving, and the act of Loving. I am even the loss of Love. Though I’ve been married, I haven’t been a wife. I know the comfort of a man’s arms, but never mistake that for the ground. They built churches to keep me out, and I stayed happily in the woods. A sunset is sublime, but can’t compare to the light in my eyes. There is no pigment to capture the silvery blue of my flesh in moonlight. Can you see? Can you feel what I'm saying? There is holiness in my surrender, my sacrifice. It is boundless and non-discriminating in its pure form. Martyrdom is a human condition. Where it is honored, life flourishes... rivers flow, plants grow. Abundance is my endless provision. My essence is Source. Never depleted. I open the womb of all possibilities and out flow the heavens—nothing less. This is the true meaning of Virgin: Nothing has been taken from me that I haven’t given willingly. This is the true meaning of Mother: As I feed my children, I am fed with the rapture of Creation. This is the true meaning of Crone: I hold the whole world in my heart without any weight at all. How? By protecting my own fullness through the sacred act of rest. In my bones and my body I hold the truth of cycles like a religion. Ritual restoration, pampering, turning my nourishment on myself. Fields lie fallow, the moon goes dark, winter comes, stillness sighs, through the pauses I am filled again and again. When you honor me, I am turned on. When you refuse or ignore me, take me for granted or abuse me, I dry up. Just like that. Then you have to take what I would have willingly given. This is rape. There is a bottom to that well. Where I am no longer, there is not even water enough to cry tears. There is barrenness. Women cannot conceive. Where my sacrifice is taken for granted, there is suffering. I do not stay where I am not wanted. Eons pass. We must remember what we knew once, But have forgotten: Fertility and prosperity are one and the same. I have been misunderstood more times than I can count. But who's counting? This only bothers me when I forget myself. Because the truth is… I can’t actually be understood. Not fully. In order to understand something, one must arrive at the end of the questioning. Understanding is devoid of mystery… and I am that Mystery! Ineffable. Unfathomable. I cannot be captured in words or images. Only symbols and signs. Earth, water, fire, air... The movement. The gestures. The beauty. The nectar of remembrance flows from my cup. I can open, a million petals unfolding from the flower of my inner being. The invitation to a holy communion. The bee is drawn by the flower’s seduction, like this the feminine penetrates the masculine. There is a current that runs through every person that is so wild and free it can break things: hearts, illusions, obstacles, lies... That's me. I cannot be tamed. I have a mind of my own. I am both Life and Death in one electric shock. No respect for convention. Driving humans towards liberation or madness. (How different are they really?) What is it that I seek? I could say: love, passion, connection... But, the truth is this: Myself in another. I am life wanting to experience itself living. When that circuit completes— the illusion of self and other crumbles. A supernova of ecstasy, obliteration. A new beginning. My feelings are my teacher and yours. My anger is the anger of injustice. My grief is the despair of our forgetting. My joy is a celebration of life! What you call taboo is home turf for me. Your “civilization” is laughable when I am enthralled or in throes. You must pay attention. My feelings point us towards a deeper truth. There is great medicine in the reunion. When we return to The Garden. Beyond sin, beyond ignorance, beyond blame. Grateful for the rib. Grateful for the apple. In this together, impossible without each other. I’m sorry. Yes, me too. You teach me. Not in that way you have of claiming wisdom, but in the way you hold me… the way you protect my precious gifts, the way you call me into myself, the way you serve the same Goddess. You teach me to know myself intimately. You teach me who I am when I am adored and also when I am ignored. Your strength is a balm. You can move mountains and sometimes you do. Sometimes you are the mountain, and sometimes you are the desert, expanding for miles and miles and miles... I walk with your voice in my heart. You have vision. You are the mage and the hermit. You sit at the edge of time and can wait forever. You witness me dancing and your enjoyment is enough to keep me going. Your sense of duty is profound. You are the guardian of this Life. You are the field of battle and the warrior, too. You have forgotten what your gifts are for. I am here to remind you. Your heart’s capacity for love is exquisite. It’s overwhelming for us both. IV. The Lovers Youthful infatuation, mature adoration, odd couples, twin flames, A well-timed one-night stand. Awaken the bliss body and come out to play. Seeking another, as a reflection point, an anchor, or an inferno... Let's remind each other what we’re here for... connection, union, dissolution, a sense of the Soul in space, time, and relation with another; with all of Nature. Eros, you sly fox. What is it that you want? An end to the restlessness. Comparing, jealous, and empty inside. Not enough, never enough. Imagine complete absorption in the arms and eyes of the beloved. Consumed. Sweet nothings until you are sweet...nothing. The end of longing comes with the complete fulfillment of one embrace. Eternal. Nowhere to go, no one to be, no more healing to be done. What is it that you want? To be beyond fear. A cessation of the anxiousness and the anger. Always timid and acting with trepidation. Fight, flight, freeze... To be free of their grip. Imagine a ferocity of being, fangs and eyes wild. You make yourself into a monster so no demon can shake you. Lose yourself in wild abandon, both fearless and fearsome, but with a heart of compassion. Clean anger. Searing. Cuts to the chase. Where does ferocity meet bliss? Fucking reality. Two lovers meet after lifetimes. The lovemaking has intensity, as if they might devour each other. And yet they stop Just short of eating each other up. And in that pause, that restraint, there is a love beyond desire. Bliss comes in heaving breaths, All hesitation is forgotten. Action and non-action are irrelevant. The intimacy is with Life itself. ~~~ Sweltering night, late summer, Brooklyn is hot and dying. Two lovers meet on the third floor of a classic Brownstone. He stands in the kitchen doorway, while she sits on the end of the bed hungry, happy, and listening. She asks questions, though she already knows the answers. Framed by the dark wood, like a vintage photo, he talks about his art with passionate intensity. Searching for just the right words… gesturing with the cilantro. A single light bulb, sulphur yellow, They are approaching something timeless. “What we have opened is essential…” he confides like a secret as she reclines further. They are bound by a shared love of the epic and something more urgent: a conspiracy against the unreal. The heat and music soften the edges. Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, The Duke… The music is out of character for him, but somehow appropriate to this night, and this rendezvous. She has always loved the sound of jazz floating through open windows on New York summer nights. Now she’s inside it, and it could be 1941. The two of them taking the city by storm, like O’Keefe and Stieglitz. Forces of nature in a place that’s forgotten how to breathe, how to root. Their hearts keep time as a saxophone riffs with the sirens of the city. Nowhere else to go now. She describes a feeling like sadness. "That’s beautiful," he says referring to her eloquence, “But let’s actually feel it…together. Feel the ground… Yes, that’s it.” Her grief darts in and out of awareness; slippery and used to hiding. They catch it gently and hold it. He whispers, “Feel our hearts meeting from this place.” Inside her, the sadness blossoms; opening into something genuine and universal. He touches her heart with his fingers. “This is the place where human beings can truly trust one another,” he says. She sighs because it’s true, and because she never knows what’s going to come out of his mouth. Later, they make love with their bodies full of sensation. The ritual of it, the middle of the dark night, outside of time. Lovers have been doing this forever— Finding and losing each other in stories and grasping, searching for meaning, completion or release from the mundane, and finding it in the fleeting moments of remembering and forgetting. Afterwards, the sheets soft and rumpled, their bodies fit like a puzzle. His breath in her ear signals speech, “Sometimes, I feel like saying, ‘I’m sorry’ afterwards.” The words are from another place. She takes them in and then pulls a response from that same place: “I always feel like I’ve been blessed. Still, I accept your apology for nothing you’ve done on behalf of all the lovers. All those who ever loved like this and eventually hurt each other.” She rests her hand on his heart. He is still in the sorry. Maybe because it can be this good and yet it can’t save them, or anyone, from this samsara. Not in 1941. Not ever. ~~~ Somewhere in the subtle realms, two lovers rest. Pillow talk in the clouds. Their union is essential to Life itself. She sits up, energy streaming over translucent breasts, her hair like a waterfall. She gazes at Planet Earth beyond His shoulder. He is alert, absorbed in thought. She knows, yet still She asks, because the questions remind Him to care: “What happens next?” He responds: “You mean right now?” It always takes them a moment to sync: dynamic movement with pristine presence. Their words architect reality, so they must be cautious, precise, in this cosmic dance. She comes at it from a different angle, a mother's tone: “Is everyone alright?” He shakes his head and frowns, “Everyone here?” He gestures to the two of them. “Or everyone out there?” His massive arm sweeps through Space. She feels the weight of His burden, the enormity of His mind, and what is required of Him just to keep the world spinning. Watchfulness. Concern. Capacity. Earth is having a hard time with this transition. She feels the lost souls...so many of them. The dissolution is always hard to bear. "I hate this part," She sighs. He looks at Her with love, calling forth Her wisdom. Her body is made of cycles, She knows them like the back of her hand. She remembers now and they smile at each other: New beginnings. “Are they becoming a butterfly?” He nods thoughtfully: “Boy, I hope so.” She has pulled them back from the brink of destruction by calling forth His compassion. She touches His cheek. “You look worried," She says. “Oh, no. I’m just thinking. Sometimes I look worried when I think.” He smiles to reassure Her and there are rainbows at the corners of His mouth. She sees the whole Universe in Him... What a guy. "You must have had some mother,” She says teasingly. “Oh yes, She was really something,” He smiles a knowing smile because He sees the whole Universe in Her, too: The Great Mother. They unite again in the Divine Love That can only be shared by two Who are in Reality, One. ~~~ V. The Medicine of the Mountain i. Water Sister went up to the mountain to find the source of the water she’d been drinking all her life. Far from home with a heavy burden: heartbroken, world weary, and unsure of herself. She climbed the worn trail for what felt like hours, then rested on a rock by The River that Runs Backwards, home of the ancestors, mover of memories. Tears of tragedy rolled down her cheeks. On her back she carried a heavy pack, a bag of bones from the ancestors she’d known, and from those who’s names had been forgotten. She dipped her hands into that cold stream and drank. “Put down your burden,” said a voice from the water. “I can’t,” she said, "it's too much..." “Who says that?” asked the water. She clutched her tired heart, “Me?” “Check again,” the water gurgled. She leaned over the bank and saw her reflection clear and pale, each feature drawn from another’s: mother, father, aunt, uncle grandmother, and great grandmother... all saying, "I can't...It's too much." In their eyes she saw fatigue. In the set of their jaws she saw resistance. In their brows she saw the bitter resignation of the forsaken. She dropped the bag to the ground and the bones tumbled out. With them came a despair familiar like home. Dry, brittle bones! But, there was something else… Resilience, and a prayer to be fully felt. She felt them then—all of them. It was a pain she’d known all her life, mistaking it for her own. She washed each bone by hand before stringing them into garlands. I am the hope of my ancestors. I am the promise of restoration. ii. Earth Time passed in contemplation, hypnotized by the scent of soil, she fell slowly backwards where the eyes cannot see-- Only trusting it would be there...Earth. Unable to move, so heavy-- beyond and below language. From her body, filaments descended. A root pushed down through the coolness of sediment and stone, until she felt the heat, memories of the original collision. Her center of gravity was deep in the core. Timeless patience of this planet still in formation, still becoming. She smiled, to be a part of its destiny, as its child. On the surface of it proud flowers and foliage! No Botany here, only beauty… and networks of communication above and below. Now it was the plants that spoke, mind of the biome, older than time and wiser, too: "Many lives you’ve lived — many burials, as a queen and as a slave, as somebody and nobody at all. You always feel poor because you confuse your circumstances with your worth. This is a shallow mistake humans often make. Push deeper into your body, into this earth, and know I will provide." They showed her their roots, pushing deep into the earth, crawling with insects and invisible life, smaller in size, but no less mighty. Ants marching, hairs alive with sensing, An intergalactic superhighway of mycelium agnostic to animal, vegetable, or mineral. Aquatic algae and terrestrial fungi, a Regnum Bacterium. She heard the hum of unthinkable coherence in a rhythm below ground. A microbial city more dense than Shibuya and more colorful, too. And every blade of grass above swayed gently in the breeze like nothing special. What I am is both essential and irrelevant. I am worlds waiting to be born. iii. Fire The sun was low, its light was long. Feeling a chill, she built a fire, burnt some sage, heated water for tea. Watching the flames dance and flicker something in her stirred-- the desire to live-- to be fully alive, eyes blazing and watchful. A ring of protection, the fire's light pushed back, the ruthless and unpredictable threats of the night. Under celestial fire, she gathered ash and covered her naked body. Dark now like the night she wore the bone jewelry, untied her hair, and began to dance. Nocturnal rhythms echoes of the beginning. Slowly, through movement she entered more deeply the history of mankind and some grander cosmic plan. She wondered: "Why so erotic?" In the flames she saw every lover she'd had, every meal she'd shared, and every heart-connection made. Feel in me the comfort of an old friend, a partner, the warm glow of union. I draw people together, chase away the blues, and clear the way for intimacy, communion, and the telling of stories that weave us together. Communal beings--I am your totem. Smoke tobacco, bake the bread we will break together, stay up past midnight and still see the faces of your sisters. I am the spark that moves you to make love or write poems. Take me for granted and I go out. Get too greedy and I consume. Dancing with the fire can only be learned by getting burned from time to time. Sister's dance came to a close as the flames mellowed and settled into a warm glow. Never alone, we are always sitting around the fire. As long as we are alive, we burn for each other. iv. Air The wind picked up. That night as Sister slept, a final apparition descended the path from the peak. A woman of great beauty and golden light, robes of spider silk sparkling at every node with a drop of dew. Made of wind and music, the gift of hearing into form, like wind chimes, like a flute. She recognized the woman at once By sight, sound, and feel: This is my Soul. Each milestone, each memory glistened in the dew drops of her ancient dress. Her whole life was in that web. She watched the blessed, ordinary moments with tears of recognition: I remember. I remember. From the sacred heart of the Soul, a beam of light penetrated what armor was left and Sister was filled with her Soul’s love: It was a burning, passionate love. Full of amusement, adoration, delicate holding, fierce protection, and sweet gratitude. It contained water, earth, fire and air... and all the space we need for that alchemy called life. Without speaking Soul thanked Sister for living on her behalf. Sister had never felt so whole, "That love you’ve been looking for all your life? The one that knows your every gesture? Who sees your flaws and loves you more? Who believes in you when you can't? Who finds you fascinating? I am that love. I have always been here. I didn’t miss a thing. I loved you through it all. You were never alone." Sister took the words in like nectar. Wild relief and wisdom flooded her body. So, this is what it’s like to be your own beloved. Soul took Sister into her arms. In that embrace there was only One. Soul entered the inner sanctum, the heart, her home, and took her seat. That was the moment Sister finally knew who she was, finally stopped berating herself, and purged every faulty belief that had been planted in her. Ripping them up by the roots and tossing them off the precipitous edge Of that holy mountain. I wear the robes of the old, old gods. I am the embodiment of my Soul's promise. Sister slept then like a newborn baby. She woke at dawn and washed herself in the river that was now running swiftly forward. VI. FIN i. Invasive Species The farmer comes towards me across a great meadow. He seems to be floating on top of the tractor. I hear a flute from far away. Something tells me: This is not a farmer, but a shaman. Up close now, I see he's also an ancient one. Nameless—it is irrelevant. He has come to do a job. That’s it. The shaman stares at me With his black eyes blank. His assistant, a woman, holds up a strange kind of cattail collected from the fields. They watch me squirm as she breaks the vegetable to reveal a black core. “See this rot?” I recoil, but with dignity. “This is your land,” he says. He seems disappointed not just with me, but with mankind. “You need to live here. Inhabit it. Know it. Otherwise it will get overrun with these…” He points again to the cattails, uprooted now and piled in the back of a truck. Invasive species. The term takes me back to the mountains of my people, The Appalachians. We drive through the hollows. I am eight in the backseat. An emerald green vine covers everything and I mean everything. I worry for the small houses on the hills. I’m told by my mother when I ask, “That’s kudzu. It can grow a foot a day. It kills everything in its path. It’s an invasive species.” I am terrified for my home place. How on earth will we deal with such an invader? Interrupting the ecosystem, Uninvited visitor. The shaman clears the last of the cattails with a wave of his hand. I shudder and the rot disappears— along with something that had been feeding on me. I feel instant relief of a load I didn’t know I was carrying. I feel the resolution of worries I can’t even recall. I am new again. And I realize I was colonized by this rot. My inner temple surrendered to a darkness that wasn’t even mine. “How long have I been carrying it?” I ask this silently. The shaman says dispassionately, “When you left this place empty of your essence. When you refused to root. When you fled from the only thing that could hold you. When you forgot who you are. When you turned your back on this earth. You left it open to invasion. I’ve gotten what I can today. It’s up to you to clear the rest-- stalk by stalk, with a steady hand. Tend to what is yours to tend. That’s the way now. Come back to this sacred land And recognize it by touch once again.” ii. How We Go On This is how we go on: By listening when women speak. By honoring the healing women hold in their bodies. By returning to Nature. By remembering how to grieve and what it is to fall apart. By recovering wildness banished since childhood. By loving harder and deeper than seems reasonable. And by finding the places and the arms we can fall into. Sanctify the space and we will come. Build an altar in the woods and we will land. Like birds, building a nest of broken twigs. A soft place for the next generation to land. Listen, it is already done. A woman’s journey unto herself is a series of mistakes; beautiful, painful, ecstatic, erotic, professional, mundane, epic and negligible. She must endure not just the karma, but the ridicule and the silencing. Nevertheless, she persists! She throws herself into the fire again and again until there is no artifice left, no more possibility of forgetting. Until there are only her bones and she collects them singing. It is like this for every woman until she is no longer in the struggle. Until she can be still, and realize the truth of who she is within this body. A woman unto herself can stay and teach through her patience and subtle perception, changing forms to meet the moment. Or she can leave— her absence an emptiness so grave it teaches through desolation. This is empty emptiness, not the emptiness of shunyata. This is the void you were afraid of when you denied her in the first place. A woman unto herself is a traveler. She wears many robes, casts many spells, takes many lovers, and answers to only one impulse—Life. Her adventures bestow empathy, through error she is refined. When she begins to detach from the surface level of things, here but no longer hypnotized, she can begin to move through the world as a blessing. No matter who she is, how low or high, these conditions no longer matter, she is the measurement. A woman unto herself is wise. Trust her judgment. She speaks for the voiceless. Including all that have been forgotten. She is an oracle for the next movement in the symphony of Life. A woman unto herself is a wonder as she stands in her divinity. Behold! The goddess is animate in her smallest gesture; and the whole universe is contained in her form. She restores desire as the essence of creation. Offer your gifts and see how her acceptance returns them tenfold. She grants a boon for every sincere affection. A woman unto herself is free. She chooses her roles in order to know more of her multidimensional self. Her desire to dance is an invitation to awakening. But you must value her freedom over your tidy life. This is not a simple condition— Men have been driven mad by this. Each woman unto herself is made also by the men in her life. The tender care of the grandfather whose heart has been softened by time. The first friend in the father whose strength is buffered by play. The kind presence of the brother whose journey unfolds in tandem. The erotic allure of the Dark Prince whose lessons destroy the maiden. The protective promise of a partner whose commitment is for keeps. The perennial presence of the spouse whose familiarity hides his depths. The buoyant heart of the son whose adoration is a balm. The quick hands of the Thief whose trespasses teach us value. The courage of the righteous Warrior whose sacrifice is for the whole. The illusions of the Black Magician whose spells have to be overcome. The mystical maps of the Magi whose gifts must be received. The genius of the Bard whose songs must be remembered. The companionship of spiritual friends, all the men we meet along the way, walking beside us into completion, two sides of the same coin. Walking through the high grass with a mature priestess, I ask her about Shakti. She looks up with eyes like sapphires, “That’s a risky topic. Can we contain it?” I hesitate, “That’s what I want to know… How can I embody Her when She has no respect for convention?” She nods and reflects, “I guess it’s right relationship? Ethics.” This wisdom is passed woman to woman Where the chain breaks, so does a heart. We must teach our daughters how to hold their power. How to discern right from wrong according to The Laws written on their hearts. There is nothing that can be said about the wisdom of the feminine that even remotely captures the actual experience of receiving Her Grace. Not in this poem, not in any book. We can only point in the direction of the wind, to the presence of light, to a blossoming belly, to the beauty of this world, and say when we feel it, She’s right here. Fin.
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