As of the writing of this blog post, I am currently in the midst of a divine feminine pilgrimage around the south of France. I am visiting three relatively well-known sites that all have ties to pre-Christianity and post Christianity feminine significance.
1. Sainte Baume: The Grotto (cave) of Mary Magdelene. According to legend Mary Magdelene came to what is now Southern France on a ship with no sails and ended up living in this cave for 30 years, until her death. This cave supposedly holds her "relics" aka bones. Close to this site is the Cave of Eggs. An ancient place associated with the Goddess and a place where pre-Christian pagans came to ask for assistance on matters of fertility.
2. Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer. Saint Sarah, the Black Madonna. There is a "black Madonna" statue in the crypts of the church in the small town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer, France that was discovered in the 1500s. There are a few black Madonna statues scattered throughout Europe. They are on the whole very old and very rare. Mostly shrouded in mystery as far as origins and explanations. For instance, "Why are they black?" is a common question, but no clear answer. This particular one is the patron saint of the Romani people and is kept on display for visitors.
3. Le Puy en velay. Another ancient black madonna statue, this one called, "The Black Virgin," is housed in the cathedral in Le Puy. The first record of the Black Virgin is 1294, and we know that She was very old even then. Again, mystery pervades.
So the question that you may be asking yourself in one way or another is, "Why the pilgrimage, Clara?"
I am on this pilgrimage because as I travel this path towards more and more and greater and greater self acceptance and self love, I'm becoming more and more aware of how my power has been hidden, shamed, and disguised as something else.
I am every day waking up to the fact that there has been an attempt to downgrade and shrink what it means to be a woman. The constant messages (media, gender roles, politics, etc) we are conditioned with do this.
- To be a woman worthy of love or sexual attention, we need to be a certain size, shape or weight.
- To be a "good" woman we should be calm and collected and self sacrificing
- We should be sexy but not too sexy.
- We should be be skinny, but, wait.. oh now we should be "strong" (aka musclely and lean)
And on and on. Until we're a culture full of women trying to "get their body back" and "lean out" and "fit into my skinny jeans."
The sheer amount of time, thought energy and real energy spent by women (and men I am sure, it is spilling over) worrying about how they look, comparing themselves to others, and biting their nails over what they are eating and how they are exercising, is mind boggling.
And I'll let you in on a little secret I've only just discovered... there's no point to any of those self-negating thoughts, the idea that we need to "punish" ourselves with food restriction or exercise, or the idea that you need to "control" yourself in any way. You don't have to do any of it. It's not helping.
You need only love yourself and the magic starts to happen. When you commit to loving yourself no matter what, you start to want to move your body in a way that energizes you. You want to eat food that makes your body feel good. You want to set healthy boundaries and make life choices that respect your beautiful body.
When you start to turn it all around. When you start to spend time loving yourself and thinking good thoughts about your body and all it does for you, something huge starts to happen.
You take back your autonomy and sovereignty as a woman.
You start to see that no one gets to determine your worthiness, but you. You start to see that you were never broken and you'll never be broken. You start to connect with the love that is a well spring of your heart, which comes from the inside, not the outside. And you start to wonder, as I have, what in the hell is going on that so many women feel so enslaved by external beauty standards and external worthiness ideals.
The never ending external environmental cues we get about how we should look, act, feel, and be are powerful, no doubt, and it takes practice, commitment, and sisterhood to see through them, but self love starts to cut through the bullshit and we begin to see.
So, that's why I'm on this pilgrimage.. to discover what has been buried in me and outside of me. To remind myself of a time and place where women were revered, and bring that time and place to the now. To familiarize myself with a divinity that includes feminine bodies and their numinous functions. To unearth the Truth that is rising in me and rising in the world. (If you're reading this, I know you can feel it too.)
The Truth is that women are sacred. That we are autonomous. That we are powerful creators and our worthiness is not given, but claimed. It's been here all along, we've just been asleep.
This divine feminine pilgrimage is part of a waking up process that started for me when I first decided to eat in a way that served me, by listening to my body, and has snow balled into a revolutionary realization that I can say, feel, act, and BE whatever the hell I want to, because I AM.
I Am the Fire
I am the flame that burns brighter as the night gets darker
The breath in my lungs is the wind that ignites me
It blows out the old & takes in the new
I am the water of my blood, flowing and adaptable,
Waiting to transform whatever I get, into what I need
The Earth of my body being my chosen anchor
The roots running deep so that I may Rise up
Nothing could knock me down
I am the destroyer
I tear down delusion
I Burn up all that doesn't serve
Only so that some new, more loving seed can be planted
And grow, stronger & more assured
I am the nurturer
Straight out of creation
Shaping form so that light may be experienced
So that Love may be poured somewhere it has not been known before
You could not hold me down
You could not stifle me
You could not control me
For I am you
I am in the wildness in Her eyes
I am in the howl at the Moon
I am Human & Goddess
Future & Past & Present
You could not throw me into the Fire
for I am the Flame