(Excerpts from: WOMAN AT THE EDGE OF TWO WORLDS Workbook –
Menopause and the Feminine Rites of Passage)
Ani and I sat in a small tea-house just off the trail leading south out of the village of Buktimang. A small white puppy wiggled around a corner of the adobe building. He curled himself onto one of my feet and began to chew on my toes. I looked across the rickety wooden table at Ani, whose brown ears were filled with gold coins. A dhaka shawl made out of sewn layers of thin cotton in faded shades of pink and white was draped around her shoulders. She rested gently on her elbows as she examined a thin round metal object in her hand. An old red ribbon was tied to a loop in the top of the shiny disc. Chewing on her lip, she moved the disc in different directions so that it caught glimpses of sunlight and reflected them onto the thatched roof of the portal. At one point she caught the light in such a way that a rainbow splashed across her forehead and dipped into an earthen pot sitting on the red-mato-covered floor. When a young boy brought us tea, she covered the small shield with her hand and polished it on her sari skirt until he left. I had not seen it before.
“What is that, Ani?”
“Reflection means many things,” she said, ignoring my question.
An unexpected clap of thunder jiggled the rafters as a warm rain began to fall outside.
“Reflection is a beautiful word, don’t you think?” Ani looked at me over her teacup and, squinting one eye, she continued. “Reflection means thinking about things in the past or the future. To reflect does not necessarily mean to think about things that really exist. Reflection could also mean a mirroring, yes?”
“Yes,” I said, as she uncovered the shiny disc again and held it up to the rays of sunlight slanting through the rain.
“This light comes from the sun. You cannot touch it. Does that mean it is not real?”
“No. Although some people say they need to be able to touch something to believe it is real.” I wondered what she was getting at and was fascinated by the way she was playing with the light.
“Now look into the tea water. What do you see?”
I looked into the teacup as a pool of brilliant sunlight was reflected into it, illuminating even the dark bottom of the porcelain cup.
“I see the reflection of the sunlight.”
“Yes. The sun and its reflected light are two quite different things, wouldn’t you say?”
“Which is real?
“The sun is real and the glow of light in the tea water is only the refection of the sun.”
Holding up the shiny disk, Ani said, “This shield is a mirror for the sun. Now you see the sun reflected in its face and now you don’t. Here, you try it.” Ani handed me the disk.
It felt warm and smooth between my fingers. I examined it carefully. It was carefully handcrafted and it felt very old in its simplicity. It was a gold-silver colour as if it were a mixture of metals. It had three circles with dots in the centre in the three directions, and in the north was a copper loop with a strip of red cloth hanging from it. It was a slightly convex circle about 2 and 1/2 inches across and thin but stable. I held it up and saw a somewhat distorted reflection of my face (with mottled red and yellow from the area in the background.) Then I held the small shield up to the remaining view of the sun through the mist of low rain clouds. A radiant refection of sunlight bounced off the table. I played with the light for a while, directing it onto the red mato floor where three children giggled as they huddled together spying on us. Then the cloud layer became more dense over the dark hills and the sun was obscured from sight. My tiny mirror became a flat dense gold colour, no longer as shiny. I kept turning the disk trying to find more sunlight.
“There, that’s your problem. Do you see it?” Ani clapped her hands and laughed after sitting and watching me in silence.
“What – just because there’s no more sunlight?”
“Let the sun go away. You are attached to the sunlight”
“But I enjoy the sunlight on the metal.”
“But the sun has moved behind a cloud.”
“Yes, I’m quite aware of that. Ani what are you getting at?”
“I’m just observing your discontent.”
“I don’t understand. I’m not discontented.”
“You are dwelling on the past. You carry the past inside of you, right here.” Ani tapped her head with her long forefinger. “Let the sun be gone, let it disappear.”
“Okay.” I placed the shield on the table between us.
Ani giggled at me. “You are still clinging to the sun. Like you do to Bahni.” Ani took the shield and held it up to me. “Look into the mirror.” Ani commanded.
I looked into the shield and saw my face.
“Has the reflection of your face changed this mirror one little bit?”
I thought for a while about atoms and molecules and then said, “No.”
“Has the mirror changed or altered because it once reflected the sun or maybe even the face of God?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Give me your camera.”
I handed Ani my camera. Deftly she set the flash and standing up she became a caricature of a photographer, kneeling down on the ground and twisting this way and that to catch the right angle and as much light as possible. She snapped several shots as a chicken fluttered noisily out of her way and the children jumped up and down shouting “Hallo, hallo,” with their tiny brown palms reaching for rupees.
“Ha! Ha!” Ani shushed to them in a commanding tone and they immediately quietened down. I gave them a few rupees and they disappeared behind the wall.
“The film in this camera is forever obsessed with the thought of you. Your face is imprinted on its memory forever. The film clings to your image. It is obsessed with you.”
“I understand,” I said, getting confused.
“This mirror reflects your image now,” she said holding the disk up so I could see myself. “But it is different from the film that also reflects your face. Do you understand why?”
I picked up the camera and the mirror. It never failed. Whenever one of my teachers asked me a direct question my mind would go absolutely blank. Ani took the metal mirror out of my hand.
“This mirror is not obsessed with the past like the film. The mirror reflects life, whatever is placed in front of it. When that reality shifts and changes, the mirror is left unchanged.”
Ani looked into the mirror and playfully arranged her hair. “The mirror sees a new reality. It sees me, but does that change me?”
“Does it change you? Yes, perhaps.”
“That’s right. Mirrors can change us greatly, because they enable us to see things that we may not have noticed. Like spinach caught between our teeth or the dark side of the soul.” Ani winked at me. “But the mirror,” Ani held the shield up between us like a sacred effigy, “never changes. The mirror is the sacred witness to everything that chooses to be reflected within its sphere. It has much to teach you.”
“Are you saying that I must learn to become a mirror.”
“Yes, to become enlightened is to become like a mirror. If you have reflected the sun and then the sun sets, you can happily reflect the moon. We leak most of our power by our attachment to the images we reflect. We are like the film in your camera. If we become a famous jhagrini or healer in our life we become a jhagrini, not a woman living her medicine who happens to have developed the gift of healing. It is the same for everyone – bankers, doctors, housewives. We never see who we are. We are obsessed with our own reflection.”
“Is the mirror the source of reflection?” I asked.
“You are considering what is real, are you not?”
Yes, I’m thinking about whether the mirror is a source.”
Only God is the source, and like the mirror we are mirror images of God,” Ani said, tapping the metal disc with her forefinger.
“Then what is the mirror?”
“The mirror enables us to understand the nature of our reflection, just as the physical body is a sacred tool, a device for the process of evolvement into higher realms. Our physical existence provides mirrors for learning. The mirror is part of the teaching.”
Printed with permission.
(Excerpt from: WOMAN AT THE EDGE OF TWO WORLDS Workbook –
Menopause and the Feminine Rites of Passage)
Menopause is a time of celebration. The main teaching of the sacred gourd is to celebrate what you have become. Then you give rebirth to yourself within your gourd-like womb through celebration and ceremony. Celebration is an interesting word, because it implies that you are alive and existing totally and completely within the moment. To celebrate what you have accomplished in your life, to celebrate who you are, what the meaning of your life is, is to stand in the moment, in the centre, equidistant from all positions on the perimeter of your sacred circle. And to proclaim to the world that you are something special, that you have survived in a way that has promoted your life and the life of others. Just simply to have lived through the past few decades is a statement of your power, your ingenuity, and your integrity. We are living through difficult times, times that stress us beyond what my teachers say that human beings should experience. We are all extraordinary powerful beings, who through our love for the goodness of the universe and the light that lives within each of us have survived. And we should be ultimately proud of that extraordinary accomplishment. We are indeed warriors and warrioresses of the twentieth century, shamans in the making, building our way toward enlightenment and new fields of energy and the perfection of play.
Since celebration is such an integral part of this teaching, I would like to spend some time talking about the act of celebration, how, for instance, you celebrate your life in reality. How do you accomplish such a feat? Perhaps this is an idea that is new to you. So many people that I speak with talk about becoming, they talk about healing, talk about recovering. But they have never seemingly become what they speak of. They never seemingly have healed themselves and never seemingly have they recovered. Understandably so, because in a lot of ways, we never get to a position where we feel totally complete, because life is a process of learning, of presenting new mirrors to ourselves and others so we can facilitate growth.
Nevertheless, there are plateaus within the process of learning. The gateway of menopause marks one of those plateaus. Because of the sacred gateway opening last year; because of what people have described as the Kaliugas in India; and what the native people have described as prophecies that have unfolded throughout the history of time, this is in turn a period of history where energy is shifting and opening. But because so few of us have teachers who describe energy as a process of life, we are unfamiliar with these ideas. To us, so many of us, life is just life. The moment we are born, we forget who we really are. We forget that we come here onto this earth walk to become enlightened, that life is a process toward the ultimate light. It is the growth of a great seed that is planted. Your life is an extraordinary tree, the flowering of which, my teachers have told me, is really the process of death. You cannot live without one eye toward the goal of this life, which is death indeed. Death is the opening and the ushering of your spirit into the greater mystery, which makes all of life understandable, but to get to that point, there are plateaus, as I have said. These plateaus are celebrations for what you have become, which is your sacred lodge of the self.
The dome of the sacred lodge, or your higher ceremonies [the highest branches of the tree of life], are only safe and effective to do when the foundation is rooted in bedrock.
Copied with permission from:
‘Woman at the Edge of Two Worlds–Workbook
The Self-Worth and Power Woman sacred wheels are aspects of the teachings of Woman at the Edge of Two Worlds, who is an archetype, a goddess figure who stands at the gateway between the first world (the first ring of power in a woman's life) and the second world. The first world is dedicated to physical existence: the raising of a family, acts of power that have to do with career, choices in relationships, and dealings with conditioning of family and society. At the second ring of power (the second world into which a woman is initiated by Woman at the Edge of Two Worlds) the great goddess provides a bridge for a woman's voyage to the enlightened, sacred life that marks the second half of her evolution.
Women all over the world are struggling to understand the true meaning, the essence, of their lives. I have experienced with my teachers, Agnes Whistling Elk and Ruby Plenty Chiefs, that the feminine rites of passage are gateways into the sacred mysteries of a woman's existence on earth, times when she can discover the deeper meaning she has sought. And yet, these rites of passage are usually silent, unmentioned and mysterious journeys.
At the nucleus of the sacred rites of the feminine are the sacred wheels that help each woman discover her own personal mystery and illuminate her private relationship to the totality of her own life process. As she develops, she begins to choreograph the energies of the universe in a very new way. Every woman experiences and expresses this new understanding of self and sacredness differently. This experience can be profoundly strengthening and full of joy. To ensure such a positive effect each sacred rite of passage in a woman's life needs to be fully illuminated so that the actual event becomes the beginning of a new and beautiful way of life.
These wheels are about the sacred rites of the feminine. They are about the uses of the energy that all women possess and how to use this energy in relation to your universe and to the spiritual and sacred aspect of your being. In working with these wheels, you will be reintroduced to the deep, internal beauty that comes with age, the beauty that makes itself visible by virtue of its innate power. As you feel this beauty, you will express it, and all those with whom you come in contact will be touched by your newfound strength, your heightened awareness, and the loveliness that emanates from deep within you.
In most sacred teachings in the world there are secret keys that make the teachings work like magic. Without the keys, the teachings can become knowledge, but never wisdom. They become the difference between information and experience of truth. When a key is given to you and if you handle it properly, it changes you. When that change occurs, a space is created between the known ground where you have always lived and unknown territory. It is within that space that a true relationship with life is born. I present to you sacred wheels for you to work with through the coming year. The Sisterhood and I designed the wheels as a result of the needs and the dynamic energy of the women I have worked with through the gateway of wise-blood.
The wheel entitled Self-Worth is a wheel that involves inner searching or an implosion of energy. Sit in the centre of an actual wheel that you construct or a wheel in your mind. A partner can work with you by sitting in the four different directions as you move around the wheel. A partner helps you hold the "power" of a direction and keeps you honest with yourself. When you finish, your partner changes position with you. The most important experience of this wheel is taking in energy, or an implosion of energy. Experience that feminine use of energy to its fullest.
The next wheel, Power Woman, acts as the key for both wheels by being a reversal of energy, or an explosion of energy, as a celebration of what you have found to be the core energy of your expression of power as a woman. Without the celebration, the Self-Worth wheel goes dormant. Do the Self-Worth wheel many times, and then move on to your Power Woman wheel. These can be done over and over to centre yourself and to help you grow through each passage in your life. They are invaluable, as you will see, as tools for your path of empowerment.
Sitting Owl's comments
As you look at these Sacred Wheels, you may notice that they are equivalent to my Medicine Wheel as seen in Volume 1 Number 2, only rotated ¼ turn. This rotation indicates to me that it is possible to use any variation of a Medicine Wheel with success. However I feel that if the wheel is positioned according to the nature of Mother Earth and Father Sky wherever you live, it increases the success of connecting your inner life’s circle with your outer circle of the universe. But the important thing to remember is that at any moment of life when we make choices, we must move between our mind, emotions actions and spirit for balanced and harmonic judgements to be made. [Ed.]