Nature, Poetry

Meeting Resistance

Tree limbs reach over the fence,
swaying, beckoning,
asking why I’m over here
on the other side
of a man-made barrier.

Not woman-made.

A woman
would not make
a defense
against
all that is natural
and wild.
She sees herself
in the tangled vines
and gnarled roots—
meeting resistance,
growing around it
anyway.

The trees lean,
stretch,
ask me to step over the line
into their dark, umbrous world.

Come home, they sigh.
Come home.

Copyright © 2018 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.

Empowerment, Healing

Healing the Father Wound: My Journey from Rage to Reconciliation

I remember the seething, white-hot rage I felt inside. I wanted to burn shit down or blow it up and leave a trail of ashes behind me. I had finally connected the dots between a father who was emotionally absent and impossible to please and the men I had attracted into my life. Guess what? They were emotionally absent and impossible to please, too.  

When you don’t receive that unconditional love and support from the man who is supposed to teach you how men should treat you, then you’re likely to make poor choices in the relationship department. You keep trying to be good enough. You twist and mold yourself into whatever shape you think he desires. You make too many compromises about where and how you’ll live. You sell yourself out. You get swept away. You bury your dreams. You dismiss your gut feelings. You keep hoping that the next one will really see you, appreciate you, and actually be there for you in body and soul.  

So you try—again—to love someone else, to be open, to get past the scars on your heart. You light up inside when he approves of you and die a little when he doesn’t, because the wound is still there. You’re still hoping to earn his love. You have expectations he can’t possibly fulfill. It’s not even his job to fulfill them, but you don’t know that yet. Every relationship you have with a man is just another opportunity to heal the bleeding, gaping Father Wound, but the problem is that you’re not going to the source. 

Then you get fed up after all the painful goodbyes and starting over for the umpteenth time with your life in cardboard boxes. You want things to change. A light comes on. You start doing the work on yourself, because why not? Nothing else has helped, has it?   

You see the pattern you’ve been repeating. It feels like wading through miles of swamp water and muck. You grieve. You rage some more. You feel disgusted. You kick yourself for not waking up sooner, for not knowing what you think you should have known. Then you kick yourself for kicking yourself. You sit in circles, alone and with others. You tell your story. You listen to their stories. You feel heard and witnessed as you are, raw and unvarnished. You shed holy tears. You forgive. You breathe. You do this work for months or years, however long it takes.         

Gradually, with wobbly legs and new skin, you begin to give yourself the love you never received. It is strange, at first, to walk in worthiness, to know your own power, to have clear boundaries, to not seek validation. Then self-worth becomes your default setting, and those around you either adjust or fall away. You know your triggers quite well; they are old friends by now. You catch yourself long before you are at risk of falling into the same old tar pit. 

Sometimes, your healing ripples outward through your words, your prayers, your offerings.     

I have watched my father go through his own metamorphosis, prompted mostly by terminal illness and the realization of his own mortality. We’ve had many conversations that usually start out with how the weather has been, who is ill, and who died recently. There have been times, though, when we transcended the whole father-daughter relationship to simply be with each other as two souls trying to figure out life. 

I once told him that I never learned how to do marriage very well.   

He paused for a minute and said, “I never did either, honey.” 

Then we laughed! It was one of the most real moments we’ve ever had, both acknowledging that we’ve fucked up and even finding humor in our mutual fucked-up-ness. 

I understand now that I had to go through this whole cycle of healing the Father Wound, because you can’t teach something that you haven’t lived. I didn’t ask for the wound, but the responsibility to heal it was, and always will be, mine. Much of what informs and enlivens my coaching practice is my own journey toward wholeness. It took years for my rage to become compassion, years before I would see my father as the catalyst who set me on my spiritual path, and years before I could have a 360 degree view of it all and feel gratitude.  

Healing the Father Wound changed how I viewed all men, and maybe that has been the greatest gift in this journey. When I stopped categorizing them as either oppressors or saviors, I began to see into their individual and collective pain. It was just as valid and deep as my own, and that awareness cracked me open. It still does, every single time that a man drops his armor and bares his soul to me. 

My dad has an incredibly sensitive heart—he just had it beaten out of him by a tyrannical, abusive father and an indifferent mother. In another life, he might have been a poet and a dreamer like his only daughter turned out to be. I carry what he wasn’t allowed to carry because of a patriarchal culture that equates sensitivity with weakness. I carry it like a medicine staff, because it is one.  

May we rise above the outdated paradigms. May we heal our parental wounds, for ourselves and the generations to come. May we strive to understand each other, and in that understanding, may we find peace.    

Copyright © 2018 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.    

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, Healing

Hazardous Material

 

I wrote this poem after contemplating how often women deny or suppress their own power because of shame or social conditioning. I believe many, including myself, have felt that we lost our sensual selves along the way somewhere. The truth is that we can’t ever lose something so dear, but we can (and do) find ways to hide it away or make it more “presentable” for the patriarchy. This is an invitation to be defiant, be disturbing, be whatever they fear most, be the sorceress, be the witch they tried to burn, be the temptress, be the lover, and most of all, be unapologetically you.  

At any moment, you can call it back—
all that power you have bottled up,
labeled Hazardous Material,
and placed on the highest shelf.

At any moment, you can reach up,
wrap your fingers around that amber vial,
twist off the corroded cap, and then…

what shall you unleash upon the world?

the fluidity of your stride,
the sway of your hips,
the grace of your hands,
the bounce of your breasts,
the might of your thighs,
the light in your womb,
the alchemy in your eyes,
the goddess in your smile

You own all of that until the day you die.

No one can take anything
from she who is one-in-herself.

You can remember what you are, woman,
before they said you were unsafe for consumption,
and you believed them.

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

Empowerment, Goddess, Healing, Poetry

The Art of Receptivity

 

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“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Oh, you learned that verse too well, my sister.

That’s what they expect, after all.

Be a nurturer, a supporter, a giver.

It’s your holy calling. It’s what women do.

Give until your creative well is empty,
until your back is broken,
until you are crawling on your hands and knees,
eating dust from a trail
that someone blazed before you.

Go ahead.

Lick some more of that dust, dearest one,
until it chokes the music and the poetry right out of you.

No one taught you how to receive, of course.

Why would they?

You are so tame now,
so much easier to control
when you’re half-starved
and bleeding from wounds
that never heal.

Receiving…yes…that dirty little word,
that unblessed state of being,
on the opposite shore from giving
where they don’t want you to be.

Get in the boat,
take the oars,
go anyway.

It is lush and wanton there,
where the Wild Woman lives in the trees,
feasting on mangoes
with sweet succulence dribbling down her chin.

It is velvety and halcyonic there,
where the Wild Woman lies naked in the sand,
as the foamy waves kiss her feet
and the stars become jewels in her crown.

How do you receive?

Through eyes that see the resplendent beauty of the world
or through filters that render it all in sepia and gray?
Through a mouth that tastes the pungency of life
or one that craves insipidness?
Through a heart that beats with joy
or one that hardly beats at all?
Through a stomach that fuels your sacred calling
or one that rejects vitality?
Through a yoni that glistens as a gateway to the cosmos
or one that has fallen asleep?

Listen, my sister, and I shall write you a new verse.

It is blessed to give, and it is blessed to receive.

It is time you learned how.

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

Empowerment, Healing

Four Letter Word Starting with “S”

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When four psychologists studied the phenomenon known as “slut shaming”—defaming a woman for the presumed frequency of her sexual activity—they learned the extent to which women shame each other, often for reasons that actually have little to do with promiscuity.

The quote above was excerpted from a longer article published in Psychology Today that snagged my attention.  I wanted to ignore it and just let the whole thing pass by without comment, but I’m being prompted (read: cattle-prodded) to meet it head-on.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “slut” has been around since the 15th century, although the spelling has changed a bit.  It was slutte in Middle English.  Even so, the definition has remained the same:  a slovenly woman; a promiscuous woman, especially a prostitute; a saucy girl.

Hmmm.  Really?  If saucy = slut, then I am all that, baby, and then some.  I hope you are, too!

So, both men and women have been tossing this damning little word around for over 600 years, all because of prudishness and some very warped views about sexuality that grew like weeds right along with the church’s dogma.  Whew.  Could we just stop giving that word so much power, please?  We have reduced it down to four letters.  I think it’s time to wipe it out entirely.

While slut shaming is nothing new, the article does at least shed some light on why women go there in the first place.  It appears to be more of a class divider, and that only serves to keep women locked in the same downward spiral of catty competitiveness that prevents us from being stronger together.

Listen, my dear sisters.  Whatever you do with your body is your business.  Whatever I do with mine is my business.  Our foremothers fought very hard to give us more sexual freedom than they ever enjoyed, so why destroy that by shaming each other?

We are all just spiritual beings in human form, learning our lessons and doing the best we can on this earthly plane of existence.  How about we make it a little easier on ourselves?

Let us erase “slut” from our vocabulary.  Let us all stop passing judgement upon each other long enough to realize that we are all goddesses.  We are all free to express our wild, juicy selves in whatever way that brings us joy.  We are stronger than the labels history has passed down to us if we choose to be.  Real power and real social status is achieved by women who inspire others and lift them up, not by scared little girls who climb to the top of a ladder by pushing everyone else off.

Blessed Be