Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Tend and Befriend Magdalene

Lifelong Healing

The Tend and Befriend Magdalene Response

When I read about Joan Norton's Magdalene Circle radio broadcast on "The Weeping Magdalene," I  was struck by the wisdom that weeping connects us to wholeness and harmony.

At first, I thought that weeping in times of challenge and crisis, like Mary Magdalene did, must cause the goddess-in-our-cells to release the tend and befriend harmonizing hormone oxytocin.

A closer look showed I was half-right:  While weeping does not produce oxytocin, it does remove its opposite, the fight or flight adreno-cortisol hormone from our blood. And this clears the way for a tend and befriend response by the parasympathetic nervous system.

The  parasympathetic nervous system is located in the brain stem, called the "old brain" by some. This  nervous system has to do with emotions, is felt in the body -- often in the stomach -- and produces the hormone oxytocin.

Oxytocin is sometimes called the birth hormone because it is released during childbirth. It is also produced during breastfeeding, hugging, cuddling, and all kinds of intimacy. It causes us to tend and befriend ourselves and others, especially in times of crisis.

Many sources say that as we women evolved, we developed the tend and befriend response as we reacted differently to threats than men did. The masculine fight or flight reaction, which dumps adrenalin and cortisol  into the body, didn't work for women -- then or now -- because we women could not fight or flee when we had small children, oldsters, heart-life, and hearths to care for.

Interestingly, men evolved so that their bodies process and eliminate adrenalin and cortisol much more rapidly than women's bodies do.  Since adreno-cortisol can cause all kinds of health problems  from diabetes to heart disease, getting rid of it fast is important.

Because we women can't discharge adreno-cortisol quickly, we're much better off if we don't go into the fight or flight response when we encounter non-life-threatening challenges in our daily life.

On the other hand, adrenalin and cortisol work well for men in daily life. These hormones allow men to be successful warriors every day in a business environment they created "in their own image" and that fits their biology, not women's.

Knowing this, women are beginning to experiment with consciously bypassing the fight or flight response and going into the tend and befriend response. I connect this tend and befriend response with qualities of the Goddess and with Mary Magdalene as the "Goddess in the Gospels." 

Fortunately, if we women find ourselves overcome by stress and unable to bypass the fight or flight response, then weeping can restore balance. Weeping is purposeful crying.

Researchers, including William H. Frey II, a biochemist at the University of Minnesota, report that crying eliminates stress hormones, specifically, the flight or fight adrenocorticotropic hormones. He reports that women cry more easily than men and five times more often. It seems that women are hard-wired to cry often because our bodies need to release toxins that men's bodies generally release in other ways.

The process for women to manage stress well and to be in harmony with the goddess-in-the-cells may be twofold:
  • Learn to activate the oxytocin/tend and befriend response before flight or flight takes over.  We can do this by taking a few conscious breaths and asking for this response, by meditating, by praying, or by creating a connection to the inner goddess in some other manner.
  • Alternately, if we women are overcome by stress, we can allow ourselves, like Mary Magdalene, to have the natural response of crying, which releases the stress hormones from our bodies.
The Goddess Earth Mother has also given us several plants, whose essential oils help release and sustain the oxytocin response in women. They include sandalwood, myrrh, cedarwood, and possibly frankincense. These oils activate the parasympathetic nervous system along with the limbic system, which some scientists say will counteract the fight or flight response.

Sources:  Dr. Ellie Drake, who founded Braveheart Women, a social network for women.
                 THE FEMALE BRAIN by Dr. Louann Brizendine, M.D.

The Temple of the Body

Lifelong Healing

We all know now that when the patriarchy thundered through Europe with the fiery death-dealing machinery of the inquisition, the Goddess was attacked. She, who had arisen again through Mary Magdalene and was ready to rise in everyone, was attacked where She resided -- in the human body, and mostly in the female human body.

The formal machinery of the inquisition lasted from the twelfth through the early nineteenth century, and its cultural and psychological legacy continues today. To protect those who held her form in the feminine lines of our bodies, the Goddess hid her vibration so well that even we – whose cells were her chalices – did not know where she went.

Some said she was hidden in the moon.

Others claimed she was hidden in the land, in the wild cry of the hawk, in the deep, silent presence of a pine grove, or in the sudden rainstorm, for they experienced her there.

Like many, without knowing for whom I searched, I found the Goddess, lost her, and found her again many times and in many places during my life.

Most recently I found Her hidden

in a coming-of-age conversation my guardian aunt had with me fifty years ago.

“Your body is a temple. It is the dwelling place of God,” my aunt told me. “And sex is beautiful when God is present in the bonds of marriage. But sex is awful, ugly, and sinful without God’s blessing. You’ll get pregnant and shame yourself and your family and your child. And you’ll go to hell for it, and don’t you believe you won’t suffer these dire consequences. Because you will.”

It was 1959. I was eleven.

God was a great big white man who called the shots from on high, so I did not tell my guardian aunt that my older brother and I had been having sex from the time I was seven. Or before then that my father, her brother, had abused me as a baby, as I later learned, he had abused her, too.

I listened to her speech, hid my shame from her, and lived and breathed and acted like a virgin. I knew she would disown me if she knew my secret, and I would be homeless in the land of the fathers, who clearly could do what they pleased.

I believe now that the ritual coming-of-age talk, though usurped by the patriarchy and twisted to serve it, held the barely audible whispers of the Divine Feminine. Across the decades, those whispers tutored my unconscious about my divine nature and warned me that I would be misused by men, empowered and degraded by the patriarchy.

Here’s how the "talk" informed me of my nature and warned me of this misuse:

“Your body is a temple. It is the dwelling place of God,” my aunt told me. “And sex is beautiful when God is present in the bonds of marriage."

Our women’s bodies are natural receivers as well as transformers. That’s how we are built. We receive higher vibrations or lower vibrations and transmute the lower energies into higher ones and the higher into lower through our chakras to keep the balance between body, mind, and spirit. And that’s what natural or constructed temples do. This transformer effect is always operating. During sex, this effect is heightened.

"But sex is awful, ugly, and sinful without God’s blessing."

The patriarchy captures our women’s bodies while it conditions our hearts to be open constantly to men. In a patriarchy, we women often receive and transform the lower vibrations for our fathers, brothers, nephews, or rulers.

And abused, hyper-vigilant women, like me, often keep our awareness focused on men’s more destructive vibrations to clear them and thereby, protect us from abuse. Because we are always monitoring our situations to see if we are safe and using our energies to clear or appease our abusers, we have little left to live authentic creative lives.

"And you’ll go to hell for it. . . "

Conditioned by the patriarchy, we clear men who come into our presence. Unless we know what we are doing, we take on their negative energies.

Sometimes we also use the transforming power of our presence to clear destructive vibrations on a social or political level where our actions are seen as “service.” If this work is unconscious, it is dangerous to us women. For we not only clear the negative, we also take on the imbalances unless we know how to discharge them.

". . .and don’t you believe you won’t suffer these dire consequences. Because you will."

This process debilitates and destroys our bodies, causing sickness. Taking on this negative energy creates a personal hell because it cuts us off from our true selves, our souls.

Here’s what I have come to understand about my Body-the-Temple:

• The Divine Feminine, the Goddess, is in every cell of our feminine bodies (and in the cells of loving men).
• The Divine Feminine balances the body, balances the being, so that each of us can live harmoniously in the world with all other beings.
• She balances us vibrationally through our energy centers, the chakras.
• She balances us “chemically” through our endocrine system, for each endocrine gland is governed by one of the body’s chakras.
• When we are balanced, we are in harmony with the Divine within us, and our very presence can balance others.
• Sometimes we do this unconsciously.
• Other times, we knowingly say or do the things to balance or offset the negative energy of those we encounter.

Vibrationally speaking, here’s what happens during sex:

• Our vibrational energy increases as our chakras are stimulated during sex.
• These centers or vortexes open and turn more energetically and connect with those of our partner.
• A woman’s body is a receptor. As the partner, who has the intention to penetrate, enters it physically, he also enters it energetically through the chakras. Gender doesn’t dictate this. Intention does.

Here’s what I have learned about how my woman’s body, my Body-as-Temple, functions on the vibrational level during intercourse, a time when the transformer effect is heightened. I learned this by using a pendulum before and after intercourse.

• I used the pendulum to map the direction and openness of my chakras and my partner’s chakras before intercourse.
• As a Healing Touch practitioner and aromatherapist, I knew how to balance my chakras and did this regularly. So, not surprisingly, my chakras showed a balanced pattern: they moved clockwise, had medium spin, and equal diameters of about 3 inches.
• Some of my partner’s chakras moved clockwise; some moved counterclockwise; some were still. Some were 3 inches in diameter; some were only one inch in diameter. I wrote down the pattern.
• After intercourse, I used my pendulum again and mapped the chakras.
• My partner’s chakras were open and balanced, mirroring my pre-sex balanced pattern.
• My chakras mirrored his pre-sex chakra unbalanced pattern!

I had taken on his imbalances and balanced him. I believe this is how my woman’s body was created to function. But I also believe that in a culture where the Divine Feminine is honored in the male and female, that all men would learn to balance themselves without using our bodies to do it. Even now, our individual partners can learn to balance themselves if they are loving and conscious.

But this transformer effect is always present, even around strangers. It is simply heightened during sex. So, in this culture women’s bodies are always at risk of being used – consciously or unconsciously, physically or vibrationally -- by others to clear and balance themselves.

What, then, can we women do to re-balance our bodies, so we don’t hold the negative energies of others?

• I return to the Mother through nature, and she re-balances me.
• I engage in healing modalities like Reiki and Healing Touch, among others, to rebalance myself.
• I find aromatherapy – especially sandalwood, cedarwood, or myrrh – rebalances me by activating my limbic system and producing the balancing feminine hormone ocytocin.
• Most recently, I re-imagine the coming-of-age “talk” as an artifact of a ritual prayer that once opened women to the Divine Feminine within our cells and let its original power speak to my soul.

Here’s my inner recovered text of what I believe was an original ritual initiation prayer:

My body is a temple. It is the dwelling place of Goddess. I am in sacred union with the Goddess who is present in each of my cells, and anyone who comes into my presence will experience her power. From this sacred union will come offspring that will be blessings to all others and me because they come from the Divine temple that I am and that protects and balances me. Always.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sacred Union and Necessary Falls

I practice mercy toward my former selves,
and so see my life – not fractured –
though full of starts and finishes.
Reincarnations then these starts –
leaps of Sandra-faith into the new.
Those finishes – necessary falls, times
out of daily world and rhythms when
emotion and intellect collide, constructs collapse.

Yet this body has not died and
spirit, though clothed in foreign garments,
remains wedded to this earth.

I spiral up and then I spiral down.
Sometimes I spiral in.
Sometimes out.

But there is a center.
And it does hold. And some revelation
Always is at hand.*

*William Yeats begins the second stanza of "The Second Coming" with these lines:
" Surely some revelation is at hand;/ Surely the Second Coming is at hand."  As I wrote this reflection, felt the energy of the "gyre" of which he writes, but I felt the vibrations as Sacred Union and living reincarnations.

Note:  Yeats’ Vision speaks of two conical helixes that are joined so that the widest part of one helix meets in the same plane of the point or smallest part of the other helix.  Certainly, this the hexagram formed by the chalice and the blade is a cross-section of this union.  And two helixes joined this way from the side would also form this pattern of the Sacred Union.

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Earth Day Prayer to Our Mother the Earth

Lifelong Healing

I love that Earth Day and Good Friday are on the same day this year. I am gardening and praying to Mother Earth. 
Acupuncturist and healer Sally Norton, who makes rosaries, found this prayer in one of the lost gospels twelve years ago, and we used it when we did healing work with writer David Ray at the Hollywood United Methodist Church chapel.

Jesus said, "And after this manner, pray to your Mother the Earth:
"Our Mother which are the Earth, hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come, and thy will be done in us, as it is in thee. 
As thou sendest every day thy angels, send them to us also.
Forgive us our sins, as we atone all our sins against thee. 
And lead us not into sickness, but deliver us from all evil,
For thine is the earth, the body, and the health. Amen." 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

EMOTIONAL FREEDOM by Dr. Judith Orloff Develops the Intuition and Heals the Heart


EMOTIONAL FREEDOM: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Harmony, $24) written by Judith Orloff MD is the perfect book to come along at the perfect time. I couldn’t put it down!
We live in a tumultuous, fear-dominated period in history and must become masters at overcoming fear and other negative emotions so they don’t sabotage our power. With skill and compassion, Dr. Judith Orloff shows us how to become heroes in our own lives by transforming anger, loneliness, and envy and more rather than simply “reacting” when our buttons get pushed.
An Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and intuition expert, Dr. Orloff shares her wealth of personal and professional knowledge to illuminate the field of emotions. She draws on wisdom from traditional medicine but goes light years beyond it by presenting emotions as a path to spiritual, energetic, and intuitive awakening. Why is this leap so important? The intellect has restricted vision about emotions, but bringing intuition into the feeling realm lets us go deeper within. Dr. Orloff asks us to see every success, every heartbreak, every loss, every gain as vehicles for transformation. She teaches readers to view emotions in a non-ordinary way, rather than simply making you happy or miserable. Everyone will benefit from the insightful instructions that continually guide us and also from the author’s intimate personal journey and well-earned life wisdom. Judith is the kind of doctor we wish we all had.
    Part One of the book introduces you to the four components of emotions: their biology, spirituality, energetic power, and psychology. Understanding each component in yourself will lead to inner breakthroughs that aren’t possible without seeing the whole picture. It offers a self-assessment test to evaluate your current level of emotional freedom so you can increase it practicing this book’s principles. Dr. Orloff invites you into her romance with sleep and dreams as revolutionary states of consciousness. She also helps readers determine their “emotional type” including “the intellectual,” and “the empath. “so they can make the most of their own finest qualities. As an empath, Dr. Orloff knows the gigantic challenges of being an “emotional sponge” and teaches other empaths who’ve been labeled “overly sensitive” how to stay grounded in an often-overwhelming world.
    You’ll enjoy the “emotional vampire survival guide”--specific advice for dealing with emotional drainers. We’ve all met them. You’re talking to someone, when suddenly you feel anxious, depressed, or tired. She describes the narcissist, the victim, the controller, and other types of vampires. Plus, there are quizzes to help you determine “Are you in a relationship with an emotional vampire?” or if you might be one yourself. Sometimes, we all have the capacity to be draining, but with mindful compassion we can catch ourselves early and make a shift.
    Part Two of the book offers a hands-on approach for facing the most prevalent negative emotions and building positive ones Each chapter is called a “transformation” in which you learn how to transform a negative emotion into its counterpoint. For instance, fear is transformed with courage, frustration with patience, and jealousy with self-esteem.
You learn to do this in your life by taking a wealth of quizzes, from Dr. Orloff’s patient studies, and her own intimate journey with each emotion.
      Emotional Freedom is the rare book that can open your mind and your heart to more empowerment. Give yourself a gift and read it.