“Unstiffen your supple body. Unchatter your quiet mind. Unfreeze your fiery heart.” – Celeste West
I have known it all along.
I’ve known it since my fingers tingled reading The Mists of Avalon for the first time. But then I put the book away, afraid of where there was room for goddesses and magic in my good Christian life.
I’ve known it since I read my first SARK book, tucked up in bed and breathing differently for the first time. But then I put the book on my bookshelf and decided I was not an artist after all.
I have known it since my friend Carla showed me her tattoo of a woman giving birth and something about the symbol stuck with me so deeply that I can draw that image to this day. But then I became afraid of how true she was to herself, myself by comparison small and afraid.
I have known it since I picked up a big black book and read about Women Who Run with the Wolves. My soul responded and I heard the roar for the first time that would echo through my days forever after. But then I experienced profound grief that made me switch off and question myself and disconnect from most people for a long, long time.
I have known it, but definitions and stereotypes made me question everything: Woman? Witch? God? Goddess? Sacred? Feminine? Heroine? Queen? Faery? Dark? Light? Magic? Spirituality? Religion? How could I – a ‘good girl’ – find my path amongst those trees?
I have been writing and living and reading around and around it for a long time now. Every time I got close to touching it, my fingers longingly toying with my pen, knowing that I was capable of saying more, I would retreat to the haven of familiarity and safety.
But it hasn’t given up on me, and now, as I get closer and closer to the centre, it has begun to follow me around. Images like the one on this door knocker, words tumbling towards me from pages and blogs and meetings with remarkable people all seem to be pointing to the same place.
Sacred. Feminine. Divine. Beautiful.
“I don’t think most people go to the edge of anything.” – Caroline Myss
A little while ago I accidentally went alone to an Enchanted Palace. When I set off in the morning on a solitary adventure, I had no idea that it would take a fairy tale to wake this sleeping beauty.
I have often been told that my expectations are too high. When your expectations are too high you are inevitably disappointed when the reality does not live up to them. Arriving at the palace on this day, however, I had no expectations. I had made the decision to spend the day following whispers and as I got on the tube at Paddington Station, I noticed the poster for the exhibition at Kensington Palace. As a notice counts as a whisper, that’s where I decided to go next.
The exhibition was absolutely charming, but all I could think as I wandered through the rooms was that I wanted more. Bigger, more magical, more whimsical, more intriguing possibilities filled my imagination. They had given me a fairy tale, but I wanted to add fairy dust. I wanted to emerge from the other side with twigs in my hair and feet sore from dancing, with a whiff of spices tangled in my clothes and a faraway look in my eye.
Standing in the park afterward I realized that it’s not that my expectations are too high, it’s that my perception of the possibilities is enormous. There, beside a lake in London, the ‘aha’ hit me: however big my belief in shining possibilities, there is the necessary knowledge of dark ones. One thrills and the other frightens, so I have spent much of my adult life wishing for one but preparing instead for the other and ending up somewhere in the middle. I have tried to want less fairy dust, but instead of being happier I ended up with cobwebs.
Blinders slipping, feet planted, hair tangled, I am getting closer and closer to the edge. I can feel it coming. Sacred and feminine have been showing themselves to me bit by bit, and I know things are changing. I am no longer afraid of disappointment because I know that I am a grown up and that the magic is in my control. I am no longer interested in becoming a princess or living happily ever after: I want more.
(A lot more.)