Empowerment, Goddess

Goddesses Don’t Wear Bras

 

Friends, it’s hotter than Brigid’s forge in lower Alabama, so I’ve been going sans bra as much as possible. It’s ridiculous to be layered when atmospheric conditions are at rain forest levels. If it would not result in arrest, I’d probably go around naked through the Dog Days of summer. Since public nudity isn’t an option, I can at least shed my bra.

If you trace the word brassiere to its Old French origin, it means armor or “a protector for the arm.” I’m not going into battle, so why do I need “armor” for my breasts? Why does any woman? What are we protecting our breasts from, or rather, why is the world still so concerned with the appearance of breasts that we spend $16 billion on bras annually? Such a waste of funds!

When I look at ancient statues of goddesses, so many of them are bare breasted. Consider the Venus of Willendorf, or Astarte, or the Minoan Snake Goddess…I could go on. All of them reflect eras when the life-giving, nurturing aspect of the Goddess was honored. Breasts were powerful, not just sexual. They represented fertility, sustenance, and abundance of the land and its people. Goddesses don’t wear bras. The very idea would be insulting.

Today, breasts are hypersexualized, objectified, and somewhat divorced from their main function. Ask any woman who has breastfed her child, and she will describe the challenges of doing this in public without feeling shamed and judged. Society is much too worried about the appearance of a woman’s nipples, despite the fact men have them, too.

How far we have fallen from our matriarchal roots.

When I posted about bra hatred on my personal Facebook page, several friends raised their virtual hands in agreement. We discussed the fact that even when we go braless, we often resort to hacks like covering our nipples with those nifty circular Band-Aids if we’re wearing tight clothing. So even if our breasts are freed from the underwire cage, our nipples might still be muffled under cheap adhesive bandages or nude-colored pasties. Why? Because we feel self-conscious. Our culture has made us believe that if our breasts bounce and our nipples show, we will be considered loose and immoral. We’ve been trained to avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention, lest we be assaulted, raped, or killed.

Yes, trained—and it all begins with the training bra we’re told to wear at the first signs of sexual development. Think about it. Who or what is being trained? Are we training our breasts to get used to the bra, or are we training ourselves to conform to a social standard that we didn’t even set? I remember asking my mom for one, because all the other girls in school were beginning to wear them. I was beginning to feel self-conscious without a bra, which shows just how much pressure girls are under to conform. The message we internalize is that there is something much too vulgar and tempting about breasts, so they must be hidden under double layers of fabric. We carry that message our whole lives, unless we consciously work to reclaim our natural beauty and worth. Reaching way back into our collective memory and connecting with the Goddess is a doorway to the process of reclaiming our selfhood.

Thankfully, some wonderful teachers and empowerment coaches are now actively assisting in the work of showing us better ways to appreciate and work with our bodies. Saida Desilets, Ph.D., creator of the Taoist-based Jade Goddess teachings, describes the energetic quality of breasts in this way:

Our breasts are considered our love center because they sit on either side of our heart and represent the external expression of our heart chi. Chi naturally flows from our heart center out into the world. Our breasts have long been a symbol for nurturing and loving energy. They also hold the secret to our longevity. (206)

Susun Weed, herbalist and author of The Wise Woman Way, also speaks of the power we hold in our breasts:

We are the Ancient GrandMothers and our breasts are ancient. Perhaps you find them ugly. See how they drift yearningly toward the Earth, lower with every passing year. We smile knowingly; we know our breasts contain a power that is resilient, flexible, supple, easy, and impossible to restrain. Whether the whim of fashion says our breasts are to be large or small, pointed or flattened, with cleavage or without, padded or bound, accented or obscured, it matters not to us. Our breasts fall free, untouched by current notions. The power of our breasts is the power of life.

Yet, we block and constrict that power, and we’ve been doing so for the last 500 years since the introduction of the corset.

I have this fantasy that women all over the globe will join together in a Bra Burning Day. I see us all flinging off our constricting garments of torture and dancing around the flames, never looking back. I see men there with us, drumming in the outer circle, supporting us lovingly and committing to the work of demolishing the old paradigms.

May we unlearn the rules imposed upon us by earlier generations that were ruled by fear and shame. May we nourish our breasts with freedom of movement, healthy relationships, massage, good nutrition, and a positive self-image. May we remember that we are the reflections of the goddesses of old, who are still alive and within us now, calling forth our courage and our love.

So Mote It Be

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.


Désilets, Saida. Emergence of the Sensual Woman: Awakening Our Erotic Innocence. Kihei, HI: Jade Goddess Publishing, 2006. Print.

Weed, Susun S. “Ancient Breasts.” Wise Woman Herbal Ezine, www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/February09/breasthealth.htm. Accessed 14 July 2017.

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Goddess, Healing

Service and the Art of Self-Care

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“Pure Love of the Divine” by Shiloh Sophia McCloud @ Fine Art America

She goes by several names…Mary, Miryam, Magdala, Magdalena. I won’t speculate on her origins or elaborate on the Gnostic teachings that describe her as Sophia, the original female principle, the Goddess. Many have already devoted books to the exploration of her mysteries, but I will leave all of that for the scholars to pick apart and debate. What I know of the Magdalene comes from simply asking, listening, and receiving. This is what she would like women to know about balancing service with the art of self-care. These are her words:

Welcome, my sisters, to the path of the Sacred Heart. You have climbed the steep, rocky hill like so many others before you to reach the entrance to the sacred cave. This is not the sparse chamber filled with hard, lonely benches and a shrine to the woman they believed me to be. No, this is a warm, inviting place where only a mystic and a priestess of women’s mysteries would dwell.

Now that you are here, step inside and see. I shall unveil it for you. The light of many beeswax candles illuminates the way, and soft rugs woven from the finest wool lead into the inner chamber. The calming aromas of myrrh and frankincense cleanse the layers of your aura. Here you may rest upon pillows that hug every curve of your sumptuous body. Here you may take respite from life’s burdens that press so heavily upon your aching shoulders. Here I shall wash your tired feet in a basin of purest rosewater and anoint them with precious oils. You are safe, weary traveler, and you are loved more than you could possibly know.

I can see that you have taken on the pain of others because of the immense love you have for them, but that is not the role of a healer. A priestess holds space for those who seek her help, and by doing so, she enables them to see the truth of their own existence. All healing begins with a desire to change, and then the source of the problem reveals itself, sometimes all at once, sometimes in layers that peel away like an onion. You must allow this process of shedding and releasing. It is what some describe as a crisis, but it is more like a flower responding to the light. It is the petals opening up at last, spreading out, and revealing the fragrance of the soul. You may water the flower and create a healthy environment, but the opening, the blooming, will happen in its own time and space.

Take care, also, my sisters, that you do not neglect your own body, mind, and spirit in the service of others. Your body allows you to do your work in the world. Treat it with kindness and respect. Bow to your body the way you would bow before entering a holy temple, for it lives inside the soul. Keep your mind free of distractions, and do not allow negative thought forms to become etched upon the tablet of your heart. Be mindful of all that you see, all that you read, all that you hear, all that you take into yourself. Consider whether these things are helpful or harmful to your inner being. Nourish your spirit with uplifting images, words, and sounds.

Allow stillness into your life like the waters of a deep pond, and feel your own intuition ripple lightly across those waters. Speak, move, and act from that source which can never be depleted and to which you are always so deeply connected. Always remember your Divine Feminine essence, even in those moments when you feel that nothing about you is lovable. All about you and within you is lovable. Without roots reaching into the darkness of the soil for nourishment, there would be no flowering branches spreading into the light. You are both the root and the branch, and one is no more sacred than the other. Both must work together in harmony for the existence of the whole. One is seen; the other is unseen. Self-care is the unseen work, and yet it is the foundation for all other works.

Remember this, my sisters, and treat yourselves with gentleness while you are engaged in the greatest of all tasks: the birthing of a new age, a new consciousness.

Peace & Blessings

Copyright © 2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved. 

Goddess, Nature

The Soulful Path of the Witch

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My spiritual journey did not begin in a sacred grove amidst ancient trees under the light of a silvery moon. I didn’t wear a cloak or carry a staff adorned with a glowing crystal sphere. I didn’t have a wand or an athame or a silver pentacle dangling from a chain around my neck. I had nothing other than the hardness of a church pew matched by the rigidity of the sermons I listened to each Sunday, because I had no choice in the matter.

Like many other natural witches, I did my time in mainstream religion while under my parents’ roof, and then I followed a quest for something deeper and more meaningful on my own. I tried out other ideas, other modes of thinking, other ways of being. I wandered down a meandering path that took me into solitary witchcraft, New Thought communities, Buddhist meditation, women’s spirituality, traditional Wicca, shamanism, and back again.

No matter how wide my path became or how many side trails I explored, the roots and bones of the craft stayed with me. I found myself returning again and again to the Wheel of the Year, the eternal dance of the Goddess and God in the earth and the heavens, the lunar cycles, the power of the elements, and the transformative energy inside a sacred circle. All of those things became the cornerstones on which everything else in my life rested. I could not feel winter’s icy embrace without appreciating the Goddess in the mantle of the Crone. What was Midsummer without basking in the glory of the Sun God at the height of his power? What was a full moon if I could not dance beneath it with the pounding of the surf in my ears and a billion stars twinkling above me?

The patterns of my life became inextricably tied with those found in nature, and so the ways of my agrarian ancestors began to feel more normal to me than much of what I witnessed and experienced in the modern world. How could it be natural to sit in front of a screen all day to earn a living? My eyes longed for sunsets. My feet ached for soft grass and warm sand, and my heart sang with the rhythm of the tide.

Nature was not something outside of myself to be feared or controlled. She was part of me. I was part of her. I wanted to be more in alignment with what she had to teach. Following the path of the natural witch and the wise woman gives me that connection, season after season, year after year.

I believe there are distinct stages on any spiritual journey, and the ways of the witch are no exception. There is an initial stage of curiosity and discovery, followed by a deeper stage of self-exploration and learning from various teachers and texts. At some point, the seeker begins to apply all of that knowledge to develop a personal practice. After years of devotion and practical application, the seeker often becomes the teacher, and the cycle continues.

There are also the inevitable dark nights of the soul when one’s beliefs and methods are put to the test. I have fallen into the abyss, faced my own darkness, and risen from smoldering ashes many times in my life. I could only see the growth and transformation long after the pain was over, which is usually the case with life lessons. Those who are drawn to the external trappings of the craft are often quite disappointed when they discover what is truly required of one who walks the witch’s path. We cannot always make our troubles vanish with an herbal brew and an incantation. We may be metaphysically gifted, but we are not spared from illness, death, adversity, losses, and rejection. Sometimes the greatest magic we can summon is our own strength and integrity to endure the storm until it passes.

Looking back, I could stitch together all the pieces of my journey like a quilt—and it would look like a “crazy quilt”—the kind your grandmother might have made with fabric scraps of varying sizes and colors. It only makes sense when you’re standing back far enough to see how those irregular parts become a unified work of art.

The question I keep asking myself at this stage of life is not so much what I can learn (although I am always learning something), but what can I teach? What can I leave behind that will help someone else? Is there anything I can pass on that would make a difference?

This is an “8” year for me in numerology, and it has already been filled with opportunities for leadership, teaching, and some promising results from seeds planted long ago. I’m a rather shy Virgo who tends to avoid the spotlight, but I’m finding that the desire to share knowledge is finally outgrowing my insecurities. I don’t have to be perfect—I just have to do my best with what I have been given.

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DruidCraft Tarot

The highest expression of the 8 in the Tarot is The Star. She is a woman at ease with her natural, unadorned self and her surroundings, knowing that she is deeply connected to the source of all life. Rather than pouring water between two vessels, as we see in the Temperance card, she now pours the healing waters of the Goddess from both vessels freely upon the earth. She knows there is an inexhaustible supply, and her only task is to be, to allow, and to trust that all is in perfect harmony.

As I contemplate the purity of The Star, those words become my mantra…be still, allow, trust…and keep walking the soulful path of the witch.

So Mote It Be

Copyright © 2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.