(This is a Rowan Tree. Its red berries have an ancient magical symbol of protection --
a pentagram or five-pointed star opposite their stalks.*)
a pentagram or five-pointed star opposite their stalks.*)
I was scheduled to drive to Greensboro yesterday to the NC Writers Conference at UNC-G, the same kind of conference I attended two years ago and where I felt like I was really out of place. Those I met were good people, and the seminar on memoir-writing was helpful, but I was back on the campus I fled 42 years earlier to join the consciousness-raising and anti-establishment movements of my youth.
At the earlier conference, I felt like I was an interloper, and a part of me wished I had stayed on a more traditional writer's path through academia. I skipped the conference last year.
But this year, I thought that, with my book published, it would be a good time to return to the conference. I felt that I would not feel displaced this time because now I was a "published writer." I had paid my fees, had everything packed and in the car, and I even got up at 4:30 a.m., so I could get dressed and leave on time.
I sat on the side of my bed, and feeling exhausted, I remembered how I always tell my clients that they are never required to do more than their bodies can stand, that only when their "cup runneth over" can they be certain that their work in the world is of the Divine and not of the ego, from the high heart chakra and not the human heart chakra.
I remembered that Clarissa Pinkola-Estes said we sometimes have to remind even the angels, who visit us with inspiration, that we are not like them, that we need rest, and food, and time for recovery. I had been working non-stop on all sorts of projects: I had been eating most of my meals standing up, had canceled dream analysis and therapy sessions so I could work more, and had minimized or eliminated exercise and meditation time. I reached under my pillow, found my Magdalene Rosary, and I used it as a pendulum to ask if "we" should go to the conference.
NO. That was the answer.
I didn't like the answer. I had pictures in my mind of being able to read at the open mic, display my books (maybe even sell some), and introduce myself in my seminar as a "published writer." But my body held the wisdom of "NO," and my vibrational field, which moved the pendulum, showed me this "NO." It was a big one, too. The pendulum did not hesitate. It rocked back and forth vigorously.
Okay. So, what then? I went down to my healing room, and asked for tolerance from the Divine, as I asked that same question from the pendulum I use in daily life and healing work. Again, "NO."
I got tricky. I decided to ask: "Is it okay if we go?" I got a "Yes," which, of course, is what I always get when I frame questions that way because the Divine is always embracing of me, even when I don't do what's best for me.
I meditated, watching the clock with one eye just in case when I asked again, I'd still have time to get ready and go. I still got "No." Three times was all I dared to ask the same question, out of at least minimal respect for the process. The Divine knows I am not dumb enough to need to be told more than three times -- at least told in the same way, the tricky mind said.
So, instead I looked for the Celtic Tree Oracle deck I bought three years ago, when my ever-present connection to dream life faltered. My therapist and dream analyst said that images are the language of the Soul, and she suggested that introducing a system of images as a shared language between me and my inner wisdom might fill the void the dreams left.
Working with the Ogham (pronounced Ohm!) has been wonderful, whether I pull a single card in a moment of distress or do a complete reading, I always feel re-harmonized with the inner, the "Otherworld." The Celts say that the Otherworld exists right alongside this one. One of my favorite quotes comes from a book I lost and forgot the title of long ago, but I remembered this quote and even kept it in amongst my bills during a particularly difficult time in life: "The mundane is the edge of glory." Indeed!
I took the deck from its special place, unwrapped the card from the scarf that acupuncturist Sally Norton bought for me when she was visiting Sai Baba ten years ago, and I asked my simple question in this way: "I have been told not to go to the writers conference today? What is the situation concerning this?"
I shuffled the cards, cut the deck, and drew the card with the Rowan tree on it. The Rowan tree protects from "enchantment, " from the "evil eye," according to *THE CELTIC TREE ORACLE by Liz and Colin Murray.
Because I had done a full reading when GROWING UP WITHOUT THE GODDESS first came out, I recognized the card. The Rowan tree was the only tree that had shown up in all three circles in the reading-- once in the past or foundational state of mind that created the current situation; once in the present, as the balance needed because of the confusion created by the past; and again in the third circle as "the way forward," "the future perhaps. . .or even the creative force" that could resolve the confusion of the present (Murray, THE CELTIC TREE ORACLE).
At the time I did the full reading, I understood that my challenge would be to let the book's healing message find its way the world and to avoid being "enchanted" by seeking praise for myself as the writer.
The Rowan card counsels: "Undoubtedly if you are in danger of 'enchantment," being swayed or mesmerized by harmful or vindictive powers, keep your wits about you. Choosing this Ogham card will help you . . . distinguish bad from good, harm from help, using your spiritual strength to turn away anything that threatens your serenity and purpose. . . You must use your sense and intuition to distinguish one from another, and so be protected"(Murray).
The guidance was perfect!
I was not serene. I had forgotten my purpose, the book's purpose, was to heal me and share my healing story with others, so that its vibrations could be a part of their healing process, if they choose.
And as a survivor of neglect and physical and sexual abuse, enchantment and mesmerizing were very familiar to me, for enchantment and mesmerizing are consequences and survival modes for those of us who have been abused.
"Enchantment and mesmerizing" answers the question many still ask about abused women "Why doesn't she leave him?"
Enchantment and mesmerizing answers that question this way: "Because she is under his influence and controlled by his 'evil-eye,' by his way of seeing her, by the man-culture way of seeing her, so she thinks she deserves what he, the god-man in patriarchal society, gives."
So there it was:
I wasn't going to the conference because I was interested in any of the workshops, though they were all wonderful and led by lifelong writers with developed expertise and much, much to offer writers learning their craft. I wasn't going to hear the keynote speaker, the faculty reading, or even to have lunch with a faculty member or an author.
For me, the "Writers Conference" had changed into something other than what it really was -- talented, dedicated writers and willing, hardworking students, who were coming together to enjoy one another's writing and to enjoy learning from one another. For me, decades ago when I attended, colleges and universities carried and disseminated the vibrational field of the patriarchy, of "Daddy's way." There I was, thinking of going to what had become, in my mesmerization, an enchanted version of the writers conference where I would be noticed, where I would be acknowledged, where my Daddy would love, not abuse, me.
So, the pendulum and the Ogham, which connected me to my own inner Divine, said, "NO."
The Divine said, "NO," because I do not need to be mesmerized or enchanted by outer world acknowledgment -- I never, never need to return to seek "his" approval.
The more I go out and read my book to people who come because they know what the book, not the author, is about, the more I am humbled by how survivors daily transform their pain into strength. Author Joan Norton said in a review of GROWING UP WITHOUT THE GODDESS that "the inner journey of recovery of the 'feminine face of God' is the great work we are all engaged in – and maybe it is abused women who are leading the way."
There! Within that inner journey of recovery is where my Rowan tree grows and where my protection from self-enchantment lies.
Blessing and Rainbows!
P.S. Receiving praise is healing and the praise for this book has been abundant. Thank you all for your generous praise! Seeking it for its own sake, for me, is enchantment.