Sunday, 23 June 2013

Solstice Waters

I have recently made a video talking about the significance of water during the festival of Litha/Summer Solstice: 
To sum up the video, I spoke about the fact that in Britain is almost always rains on the summer solstice. There are a lot of grumbles and complaints about this, of which I do understand (we all want to greet the rising sun, and bask in its warmth on the beach!), but I think we need to accept that this rain is very much a part of this festival. If we had pure heat and sunshine at this time of year then there would be a drought; they'd be no greenery or gushing waterfalls, no flowers and no refreshment. In the warmth of summer sunshine (when it does appear) we rush to the sea or to pools and bathe in the water; we naturally want to be in the water at this time of year - think summer beach holidays. The water is absolutely essential at this time of year!
If we look at Wendy Andrew's Litha goddess in her wheel of the year art (see above) we see the Goddess pouring water in the summer sunshine. The chalice, the womb, the grail is full at midsummer ready to pour its bounty! Last year for my Litha celebration we were under cover and the rain was falling; the air was warm and green plants surrounded us all around and on the roof, dripping with excess water. It was stunning! This festival is where fire and water meet and are celebrated at the same time, celebrating unity and balance -  opposites that complement each other.
This Litha I went to Glastonbury to celebrate. We walked in the sunshine of the Chalice Well gardens, listened to the water of the White Spring, drank deep of the waters and were drops in the ocean of the watery ritual at the Goddess Hall. Although we did not see the sunrise on the 21st, we watched the sun go down and moon rise, and later arose at sunrise the next day for our ritual in which we pondered the story of Blodeuwedd and Lleu. We visited the Goddess Temple which was decorated with watery blues and stunning artwork (below); here I had my own watery revelations. Water is the element of the emotions and of release and healing. In the Goddess Hall ritual the Priestesses had spoke of the flow of emotions and letting them free; in recognising this I pondered my own feelings and experienced release in tears in the temple - which I hope were subtle and not too disruptive! I had to let them flow. I had to really acknowledge the core of my feelings and release them to be healed. Sometimes when you leave Glastonbury you get the Glastonbury-Blues, longing to stay; this time I took my experiences home with me and the waters are healing me.

Blessed Summer Solstice to all! )O(

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Red Tent Movie

I recently had the privilege to gather with a group of women and take part in a viewing of the Red Tent movie, 'Things we don't talk about'. Information on the movie can be found on their website:

My initial ideas about what the movie would be like was surrounded by feminist quotes and detailed talk on menstruation (both of which I don't actually mind, but know that many others cringe at). I was very happy to find that, although menstruation was mentioned - as it is an important part of the female experience - it was mentioned as a small part of the film and was certainly not the focus. 

The film focused on women setting up these red tents around the world, in the past and present and learning from each other what it is like to be a woman. Women share with each other the joys and trials of their lives, each having an equal chance to speak with everyone listening. There is no judgement, just support and understanding. Women can be women's worst enemy in life and in modern society we have hard expectations burned upon us from all sides, especially from each other; this film brought out our better sides, the sides that create, support and love one another. Without intending to sound like a hard-core feminist - it was liberating! It was incredibly freeing and inspiring to see the love and beauty of women in such a healing atmosphere.

After the film our group went around and shared what we thought about what we'd just watched. There was a mixture of honest responses,but almost all found it an inspiring experience. Those who were skeptical of the film even left the event having opened up and expressed themselves - whether they noticed or not! From my own response there were a few key things that I took from the film: Firstly, the acknowledgement of the love we can have and give to each other. I know this sounds very fluffy, but that's not a bad thing! I am surrounded by love in my life, but am often too busy to express my love back; I get surrounded by my working bubble and let love pass me by. I wish to be a more loving person as a result of this film.

I also appreciated the diversity and undiscriminating nature of the Red Tent. Women of all backgrounds, cultures, colours, sizes, sexual preferences and religions could come together in this environment and celebrate their diversity and their unity. They are all women and could celebrate this great thing in common. Being a woman means so much more now. Being 'just a housewife' or 'just an old grandmother' are elevated to the status of a Goddess! 

And finally, as I had been discussing with a friend that day, this year is my year of transformation - when the caterpillar becomes the butterfly, the maiden becomes the lover. I am coming into adulthood now, and am 21 in December this year. For the last few years I've been terrified to grow up. When I turned 18 I literally felt ill at the idea. I was afraid of aging, of taking on new responsibilities, paying bills and losing my childhood awe. After developing my spirituality, living my life, being involved in women's circles and watching this film, I feel more able to accept this new stage in life. I've seen older women than I who are beautiful, full of life and are inspiring figures. It doesn't seem so scary now. It is something to celebrate and look forward to. In coming into adulthood I can look forward to becoming financially independent, a role model, sexually awakened, a mother, and a wife - all in good time.

As a result of this film, our women's circle (which was previously Pagan orientated due to circumstance) has decided to morph into a Red Tent. I would give more detail about our group on here if privacy and safety were not an issue. I highly encourage all female readers to go out and find local Red Tents - or to start their own! The best thing about it is that any female could join! I also couldn't recommend the film enough. In case you were unaware, the Red Tent Movement was inspired by Anita Diamant's book 'The Red Tent' which I also intend on reading soon.

For my male readers, I am aware of men's groups appearing around the world also, although so far in fewer numbers. I am in full support of such groups as men have things to talk about and learn too! I believe that men and women should do things together and that we should all be equal, but I also believe that whilst equal we are also different and some things each sex needs to learn about, that perhaps the other doesn't as much (i.e a circle devoted to talking about menstruating is not going to appeal to most men...).