When women gather magic happens. That’s a bold statement but one that I personally experienced and that I heard voiced this weekend from the women who came to gather at Cedar Valley near West Bend, WI. Once a year for at least 15 years Cathy Gawlik and Dawn Zak of Way of the Willow put together an opportunity for women to gather. This weekend’s gathering Circling: Walking the Wheel of our Life made use of the medicine wheel (see link below) to look at ways we can be unbalanced in our life. This weekend had its challenges for sure but over all I had an awakening, an opening up and an allowing of myself to be me, the joking, loving, heart on sleeve, fully present for others, vulnerable me.
The first women gathering weekend I attended a number of years ago, although powerful, was more than challenging, it was rocky and rough. The me I just described would show up in bursts and fill me with shame and humiliation at her antics. When I’m being me, I am wide open, vulnerable. In this state, I can screw up, get carried away and say something that could be misinterpreted and I have no defense, after all I am being who I am, I am being me. And so my reflexive ego saving defenses would kick in and I would clam up, retreat to my room or go for a walk. When sitting down to eat with the other women I would get up and leave as soon as I was done, not allowing myself to sit, be and communicate with the other women. When the weekend was over I would make a hasty retreat, trying to extricate myself as unobtrusively as possible. Worst case scenario, I would leave early, just sneaking away with my tail between my legs.
That was then and like I said this time things were different. For one I’m older and the changes I made with myself through the years although minute at the time have tallied up. So although my growth was imperceptible day-to-day the cumulative effect is substantial. And also,I have been working with Cathy on her e newsletter WillowTalk, and her blog Life. A New Perspective. So, I went to the weekend feeling safe to be myself, to express me.
At one point I did have a melt down. Not an overly dramatic, big, splashy, meltdown. At least I hope it didn’t appear that way. I thought it was more like a silent, quiet, hiding, a need to retreat and cry silently by myself meltdown. My bouncing around feeling like myself caused me to hear myself say, “Oh, my God. What are you doing? You’re so stupid,” in my head. At which point I sat down, covered my head and cried. Two fantastic, generous, caring women graciously and inconspicuously, or what I felt was inconspicuous, helped me out. This meltdown was silly really but it turned out to be my catalyst for awareness about imbalance in my life.
On Saturday we were to spend time alone either journaling, walking out in nature collecting things for a prayer stick, working in our big meeting room with art materials to create a mandala, resting or whatever we needed or wanted to do to reflect on ways we get out of balance and how to bring ourselves back in balance.
I chose to do everything. While walking on the serene grounds at Cedar Valley which has many trails with powerful art objects throughout, a chapel, an outdoor labyrinth, a pond for swimming, horses and goats, I came across a cool swing hanging from a tree. I had my camera with me so jumped on that swing and took my picture. I can see from the picture I took that I am feeling free and myself. Not long ago I wrote a blog about how as a child swinging gave me a sense of freedom
After a quick dip in the pond I went back to the meeting room to assemble my prayer stick and create a mandala. I needed some inspiration for that mandala so I went to the table that had these meditation cards. There was this deck called the Lakota Sweat Lodge Cards. After breathing, centering myself and asking for guidance, I drew a card. It was a Mole! A big part of me wanted to put that card back. What can a mole say to me. I knew that I needed to accept what comes my way so reluctantly opened the book to the description of the mole. I was blown away. I took that book over to the table with the art supplies and copied down what it said inserting my personal interpretations in parenthesis.
This is the point at which to examine your life, detach your interest from the ways of the past (insecurity, guilt, self-loathing) and recreate yourself (Trust, self-confidence, passion, power). You are the guardian of yourself. Come up above the ground into the light (awareness, clarity, consciousness). Live in the present by incorporating your knowledge and vision of past and future (writing). Each new moment is an opportunity to awaken so self (conscious awareness) and burrow deeper into earth goodness (trust, faith, hope). You have the power to heal your life and create your life anew in any moment. Listen to the messages you receive from above (higher self) guiding you to the whole healing of your body, mind and soul (integration).
Then I made a mandala with the picture of the mole in the middle.
What I learned was that I can get out of balance when I am being my spontaneous, open self and unconscious memories from the past can cause negative self talk and throw me off. Instead of getting lost in those past emotions and thoughts, I can become aware of what is happening and get back to trust and faith. I need not punish myself when I get out of balance. It is part of life. Instead I can face and accept my imbalance and strive for balance.
I came away with three reminders to help me do this. My prayer stick, my mandala where I copied the meditation from the book and the little card Cathy and Dawn gave us to fill out as reminders about what we learned.
I face Southwest. I strive for balance in Trust, Clarity, Intuition, Passion and Power with my creative unique writing with the help of Great Spirit.
I am not the only woman to reap such benefits from that weekend. Each woman in turn filled out their card with their own message. Each woman was awed by the magic that happens when women gather. I would highly recommend that women gather to help bring themselves into balance which in turn can help balance the energies on this planet.
Listen to the Cherokee Morning song by Walela. An uplifting song that we heard this weekend during of our retreat.