Saturday, March 27, 2010

Breaking the Silence Surrounding Acquaintance Rape

Lifelong Healing

I met Renee DeVesty on, the social network for women who want to change themselves and save the world. Founder Ellie Drake says that this online community "brings together women from all around the world to share and receive inspiration. Through conversation, compassion, and community, BraveHeart Women empowers women of all ages to discover their own voices, expand their potential, and be the change they want for themselves, their family, community, and the world."

Renee Devesty is truly a BraveHeart woman, who was raped at 19, recovers daily as all survivors do, and tells her story to help other women break the silence and seek help so they, too, can begin to thrive, not just survive

She has agreed to be a guest blogger and share her story below.


It's been almost three decades since I was raped -- not by a stranger, but an acquaintance. The man who held me down was someone I knew and trusted. It happened among people who were lifelong friends; and like so many women, I was terrified, confused, and blamed myself for far too long. I'm telling my story now because I am ready for this with every bone in my body. I've been waiting to heal for 30 years. It's time for the silence to be broken.

What Happened
I'd gone for an overnight trip to my best friend's camp on a lake in upstate New York. There were 10 of us who'd gathered there, all 19 years old. We had all attended school together, lived nearby and knew each other most of our lives.

I rode to the camp with my best friend and her husband. They had married young because he had joined the Navy. Though they now lived out of town, they'd returned for the weekend while he was home on leave. When we got to the camp, my best friend told me I could have the best bedroom upstairs, since everyone else was sleeping on the floor. Excited, I put my belongings in the upstairs room and changed into my swimsuit for a day on the boat.

Back then, the legal drinking age in New York state was 18 and we'd been drinking on and off all day. When evening came, we were all hanging out on the deck enjoying ourselves. I wasn't much of a drinker and after being on the lake all day, I was the first to go to bed.

I awoke to a feeling of pressure. When I opened my eyes, there was my best friend's husband standing over me, one hand clamped against my mouth while he held me down with the other. He was a big guy and I was frozen with fear and intimidation; I absolutely could not move a muscle. His buddy, another friend I had known all my life, was now on top of me also holding me down and grabbing at my underwear. It was the middle of the night; I was half asleep and thought I must be dreaming.

Soon, it became evident I was not dreaming. It was real, but psychologically, it didn't make any sense.

Where was everyone? Where was my best friend? Why were these guys -- my friends -- doing this to me? It was all over quickly and they left immediately; but before he walked out, my best friend's husband warned me not to say anything or he'd deny it.

I was definitely afraid of him. I was raised a strict Catholic and immediately thoughts of fear, shame and disgust filled my head. I began to think this was all my fault. I thought I must have done something to encourage this. And then it hit me: Was it really an attack because I knew them? Was it actually rape since they were my friends? My head was spinning and I was physically sick to my stomach.

"I never said a word"
When I awoke next morning, I was still terrified, and it got worse when I went downstairs and saw my attackers in the kitchen. I didn't know what to think or say. My best friend's husband just stared at me. My best friend appeared to be acting normal. "She'll never believe you," I told myself. This is her husband and she loves him. Silently, I packed my things and rode the whole way home in the car with my rapist. And I never said a word.

I immediately blamed myself and thought if I had only slept downstairs with everyone else, it wouldn't have happened. Or if I didn't wear my swimsuit, I would have been safe. My mind could not comprehend this whole scenario, so in order to cope with it, I blocked it out as if it never happened. I shut down completely and decided I would never tell anyone about it.

Pregnant from the rape
A few months later I realized the nightmare wasn't over. I had become pregnant from the rape. I went into shock again. Being a strict Catholic, I thought, "How could God allow this to happen to me?" I was convinced I was being punished. I felt enormous shame and guilt. This was 30 years ago. Practically no one went to counseling then or openly sought help for such things. I could not tell my mother, and I was too ashamed to tell my friends. And who would believe me now two months later? I still could not believe it myself.

Because of my shame, fear, disgust and the belief I had no one to turn to, I regretfully made the decision to terminate the pregnancy.

Trauma and aftermath of being raped
The rape and then the trauma of the subsequent choices I had to make as a result of being raped haunted me for years. I found that although my body healed, my thought process and my inner core were deeply damaged. Because I blamed myself, I hated myself. I became a severe alcoholic, drinking seven days a week to numb myself.

I had a job that I should have been fired from because I would show up late and sleep on the couch in the restroom during my lunch hour. Bill collectors called me non-stop. My relationships with men were abusive.

I was terrified to sleep alone at night, had horrible nightmares and finally resorted to sleeping with a baseball bat, a butcher knife and a cordless phone because of the fear that it would happen again. This act that had ended years and years ago continued to torture me every minute, every hour, every day of my life.

It wasn’t until I was married and then pregnant with my son that I became sober and started counseling. I was 31 years old, and it had been 12 years since I was raped. In my first session, I ran to the window and tried to physically open it because I felt like all the oxygen had left the room. I truly could not breathe. I stayed with it, but the pain of uncovering these old wounds was mentally and emotionally traumatizing.

Caught in the cycle of abuse
Because I stopped using alcohol to soothe the pain, I chose food as an addiction. My weight fluctuated constantly until I stopped eating at one point altogether. My counselor told me if I didn’t start eating I would be put in 30-day treatment facility. I remember days of physically forcing myself to eat one slice of cantaloupe, because I couldn’t bear the thought of being away from my son. I would eat not for me, but for him.

That’s how psychologically devastating rape can be. Rape takes away your sense of self. You disappear. In order to survive, you don’t exist in your mind. It is too painful to see yourself through the pain, through the action that has taken place. Your body is your canvas, the picture you show to the world. And if someone has violated your personal canvas, how do you remove that image in your mind? You become disconnected from your body and are convinced that nothing will ever erase the marks that are left behind. Nothing.

Having my son forced me to take care of myself. I had someone I loved so much who needed me, I had to get better. I worked extremely hard to get the help I should have gotten for that beautiful, innocent teenager all those years ago.

Because of what happened to me and how deeply affected I was by the entire experience, today I am a rape survivor, not a rape victim. There are so many more places available to address issues similar to mine than there were 30 years ago, including many community-based rape crisis centers. No one should ever have to suffer in silence.

Helping others to survive and thrive
I currently am a high school youth leader and I conduct retreats for women and teenage girls on self-empowerment, teaching a sense of belief in and love for yourself, and how to make healthy choices despite your circumstances in life.

I've come forward with my story after so many years -- and am now an advocate for ending abuse and violence against women and girls -- because the psychological damage caused by rape takes its toll unless women seek immediate help. To reclaim their lives and become rape survivors, rape victims need to realize that they are not to blame The negative thoughts of self-destruction that follow rape or sexual abuse are so detrimental that it is imperative that some form of healing begin immediately.

We are pure, whole, and beautiful
We need to remember our beautiful canvas is ours and ours alone. Nothing or no one ever can -- or ever will -- be able to alter your inner core, your center of purity, wholeness and beauty. Only we have the power to continually wipe it clean and begin again.

And we must believe that, indeed, we are important enough to begin again.

Professionally, Renee is a Marketing Consultant with over 25 years experience in the management, coordination, and promotion of corporate and non-profit events, concerts and fundraisers. She is the founder of Blossom/Take Root & Grow, wellness retreats emphasizing the importance of emotional, physical, spiritual and financial health and well-being of women and teen girls.

She has been a featured public speaker at events including V-Day's Vagina Monologues, Junior Achievement's Young Women's Symposium, and an exhibitor at WISE—Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship in 2009 and 2010. She is also a member of WomenTiesTogether Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success. As a high school youth leader, she works with teens on projects that emphasize service in the community, support of self-esteem and self-image issues, and how the choices you make directly impact your future. Renee is passionate about community service, and her commitment to helping others is at the forefront of everything she does.

For more about Renee visit

Friday, March 19, 2010

Margaret Starbird to Present Seminars on the Sacred Feminine and the Sacred Union at Dancing Moon Bookstore in Raleigh

  • Lifelong Healing

Dear Friends,

Best-selling author and Sacred Union scholar Margaret Starbird will present a series of seminars on the Sacred Feminine and Sacred Union at Dancing Moon Books & Gifts in Raleigh, April 9-11. Those of you who know me will remember that Starbird's work helped me on my path to embracing the Sacred Feminine.

Starbird's work establishes the pre-eminence of Mary Magdalene and helps us identify the archetypal Bride and Bridegroom of Christian mythology. By reclaiming Mary Magdalene as "Bride," we can restore the balance that was at the heart of Christianity.

I have attended Margaret's workshops and lectures three times, and each time I learned something of deep importance that assisted in my enfoldment into my own divine center. Her work is an initiation into the Sacred Feminine and invites personal transformation.

Her lectures and workshops include slide presentations of sacred imagery, symbology, art and artifacts associated with Mary Magdalene.
Workshops include:

  • An Introduction to the Magdalene Mysteries
  • The Goddess, the Grail and the Gospel
  • Embracing the Divine Feminine
  • Embracing the Sacred Union.

    For more information, call (919) 833-8081 or visit

    Sandra Pope

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Using Essential Oils to Harmonize with Moon Rhythms

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Consciously aligning our rhythms with the cycles of the moon speeds healing and supports our spiritual endeavors to materialize our higher consciousness on the Earth. Our Plant Elders can magnify and foster the process of aligning with moon rhythms.As essential oils, plant essences are powerful, immediate transforming agents.

Below are oils that I have selected for their spiritual harmonizing qualities. Please note the nomenclature I use for phases of the moon is as follows: New Moon (sometimes called emerging crescent), Waxing Half Moon, Full Moon, Waning Moon, and Dark Moon (sometimes called New Moon). (For information on how to use oils safely and how to determine the quality of an oil, please see the attached note.)


The New Moon emerges -- a piercing sliver of light, a sudden inspiration, cradled still in the dark receptivity of the New Moon Earth Mother – and Myrrh harmonizes me with New Moon’s sudden inspiration. It lifts my spirit, removes old blocks, nurtures new growth.

Geranium harmonizes my inner and outer worlds -- the dark and light of the moon -- and keeps me grounded like a perennial that returns to the upper world yet remains rooted in Earth.

Pine also helps with New Moon attunement: Pine reinvigorates mind/body/spirit, uplifts like a soaring pine and grounds like pine's deep taproot.

Lastly, during the New Moon phase I use Galbanum, a green, earthy oil, that awakens awareness of Body as Earth, and anchors Her Light in me.


As the Dark Mother Moon that held last week’s New Moon moves slowly toward Half Moon, my desire for more revelation, more production, more creativity increases faster than the new light does.

I turn to Plant Elder Sandalwood for acceptance of process and inner unity.

Lavender relieves my agitation and returns me to Spirit.

Tangerine brings the gift of optimism and tames my fear that what has been illuminated will disappear into the void and be unrealized, and there will never be a Full Moon shining on me.

Thyme soothes my will, links my will to Heart and Spirit and gives me courage to stay my course and wait for the promised return of full Light beyond the polarity of Half Moon.

Each night as Moon waxes, I align with it my inner journey from sudden inspiration through manifestation to the coming fullness of completion!


Moon-dance rhythms are eternal, but this moon-cycle completes itself with Full Moon, a time of releasing into the world that which has been worked on and brought to completion, knowing that more is incubating.

I celebrate the union of yin and yang, dark and light, Her and Him with the layered union of Rose and Orange -- feminine and masculine oils that harmonize with the high vibrations of Full Moon Union.

To my Full Moon Celebration blend, I add Rose of Sharon, the protector of the Sacred Feminine energies that are about to re-emerge.


Filled to the brim with high heart energy, the generous Full Moon arrives and begins to wane, almost immediately as Light spills over and nurtures all.

Giving is easy and natural as heart-cups overflow like the light of Moon -- revealed again as Diana, as Artemis, covered with breasts and enfolding all -- pours Light on all species.

Rose is the Lotus of the high heart, the first mind.

Thousands of Rose Petal elders release their life essence and accumulated wisdom in a mandala of Rose fragrance.

Moon high-heart energy re-enters Body.

And through the limbic system, Body remembers its connection to All during Generous Moon.

Lemon oil focuses all human activities that spread the Light of abundant love on Earth.

Rosemary anchors the Light of abundant generosity in just the right way for each individual expression.

And the Empress of the night, Jasmine, holds the individual’s connection to spirit as the moon wanes and the last Full Moon before Spring pours herself out to prepare Spring’s way.


Sometimes called the “New Moon,” the Dark Moon is about to emerge as the disc of Moon slips out of Sun’s grasp and into its own inner illumination, away from the eyes of the world.

What was brought to consciousness during the New Moon became wholly known during Full Moon, and was drawn down into the Earth plane and fully shared as the moon waned.

Unlike the many-breasted ruler of the moon Artemis, we humans do not have infinite capacity to nurture. The sacred vessel that I am, which filled fully with consciousness and then emptied its light into the world, is tired.

Dark Moon is a time to close the door to my study or healing room, rest my human heart-mind, and wait for it to be replenished by inner springs of wisdom that overflow to the high-human heart and then spill over again in right time to the world.

Dark Moon is a time to disconnect with the outer world in order to open fully to the inner one. It is a time of inner witnessing and of deeply knowing an undivided consciousness that is un-split between light and dark, inner and outer: the Dark Moon-Mind is wholly dark, wholly new, filled with what is wholly known, but only to itself.

During Dark Moon time, I return to the body-heart and the heart-mind and play in the mud, draw without purpose, hum unwritten melodies, meditate for transformation that is undirected by the human mind, and feel wandering breezes that have no direction.

Dark Moon is a time/place where all living things transcend and merge into one-ness and feel the deep bond of belonging to All-That-Is.

Dark Moon is a time for fasting from the oils and for releasing my Self from the vibrational body I created with the help of the Plant elders to hold and manifest my human understanding of my purpose. It is a time of gratitude for all the support I have received from the Plant Elders and the Earth Mother of which I am a part.

Dark Moon is a time of going dark and seeing with my third eye.

Dark Moon is a time of calm re-purification, supported by the deep knowing that emptying is essential preparation for the new to be received and for the treasure of the old to be discovered again and infused with new energy.


If you are new to the oils, you might choose to engage the assistance of a body-worker, aromatherapist, or vibrational healer, trained in aromatherapy for your first experiences or take a basic oils class. This way you can learn about and follow important safety guidelines. Very basic rules of safety include:

+Know your body and know respect your chemical sensitivities and allergies.
-Never use in the eyes or ears.
+Always dilute according to directions.
-Never directly inhale an essential oil from its bottle.
+Keep a bottle of olive oil or grape seed oil or some other ìoilyî oil nearby and use this to remove oil from skin if there is an adverse reaction.
+Never use water to remove an unwanted essential oil.
-Use organic, therapeutic grade oils. They cost more, but you can be certain they are pure. The International Standards Organization (ISO) and the Association French Normalization Organization Regulation (AFNOR) are two reliable certifying organizations. AFNORís stamp of approval is easy to spot because it is a triangle.
+Use less, but never more, of the suggested amounts.

Other sources for how to safely use essential oils include the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, a good on-line source for safety information, and the writings of the pre-eminent safety expert for essential oils, Robert Tisserand.


When you are ready to use essential oils, you might want to take the time to create the spa/meditation experience that will be just right for you. Consider the following to help you slip into a meditative state:

~ Give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes.
~ Make sure the room temperature is pleasing.
~ Add candles or music if they appeal to your sensibilities.
~ Hang a “Meditatingî”sign on your door. (Mine simply says, “M-M-M-M-M.” It contrasts with the one I put up when I am napping that says, “Z-Z-Z-Z-Z.”)
~ Write an intention statement or select an image or object that represents your intention, and place it so it will be in your line of vision while you relax/reflect/meditate.
~ Have supplies nearby you can use for creative expression that is “for your eyes only.” This can help you ease into daily life again and bring back some of the peace and clarity you have gained.

You can experience essential oils in a number of ways:

~Apply 50/50 to chakras or acupressure points. (50/50 means to dilute one part essential oil with one part carrier oil like olive oil or grape seed oil. For example, use one drop of essential mixed with one drop of grape seed oil. This direction is for frankincense. Other essential oils may need no dilution or more dilution. This info should be on the label.)
~Mix diluted essential with bath gel, sea salt, or Epsom salts for a foot or full bath.
~Place diluted essential oil in the palm of your hand and directly inhale.

Now breathe deeply and step inside this sanctuary you have prepared and experience the peace of your own centered Self within the royal chamber of your being.

(Copyrighted by Sandra Pope, 2010. Please feel free to re-distribute this information as long as you include the copyright and website addresses., Blessings.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

How the Loss of the Sacred Union Leads to Abuse

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The urge of the masculine for union with the Sacred Feminine is a powerful, universal drive, and when no Sacred Feminine is acknowledged by the culture, the angry part of the masculine energies cannot be cooled down.

This anger and hatred is visited upon the "merely human woman" through whom the Sacred Feminine archetype cannot be seen by the masculine separated from its own sacredness.

All women experience the energetic pattern of this hatred in their lives. Abused women experience it in its most awful form.

Even the popular culture, acknowledges this pattern. For example, in THE COLOR PURPLE, when Shug Avery asks Celie why her husband beats her, Celie answers: He beats me because I am not you.

In my own journey toward recovering the Sacred Feminine in myself, I was guided to understand this ugly truth: The divine will seek out the divine and when the human culture or personality does not acknowledge that divine spark in another, when the cultural blinders do their job, the desire for union is degraded and becomes simply the desire "to have."

Then in a frenzy for the Sacred Union which has been denied them, men beat and rape women because "they are not" Her.

Surely, if they could see the Sacred Feminine archetype shining through every female, then they would be unable to reach out in hate and harm.

And, no, I am not saying that it is the role of women to save men. I am saying that our only protection comes through re-connecting with the goddess energies within ourselves.

And that is what may allow the energies of resurrection to constellate and bring forth the Sacred Masculine.

Isn’t this the pattern the Bible teaches us when Jesus came late to the bedside of Lazarus?

Jesus did not resurrect Lazarus alone.

Mary Magdalene re-ignited the Sacred Masculine in Jesus when she allowed herself to feel with her human heart the loss of one she and Jesus loved, and only then did Jesus weep.

The resurrection energy, the Christos energy, that raised Lazarus resulted from the Sacred Union between Mary Magdalene and Jesus when he allowed himself to feel her loss and reconnect to his own wholeness through her. Her Sacred presence allowed the Sacred Masculine to constellate.

New life is always the outcome of the Sacred Union, and Lazarus embodies this new life. This new life is the reward for us when we acknowledge and hold our own Divine Feminine energies – whether we are female or male.