Thursday, 1 October 2015

California Day 8

After breakfast I attended with Deborah the workshop with Lithia Brigan (Lisa) the girl who came to Crete on Anique's tour two years ago, it was so nice to catch up with her again).

The Mother Heart Spirit Doll Workshop and Blessing Ritual was just what I needed.

Mother love is essential for life and it flows from each of our hearts to provide healing energy, for ourselves as well as others. We created our own vision of Mother Goddess in the form of a devotional poppet and then brought her to life with intention and blessings. She is then always with us whenever we need her and all the intention and love placed into her at the conference will comfort us at any time we wish to feel more mother's love.

The initial laying out of the fabrics

Deborah and my finished dolls

Our last meal together lunch in the dining hall. The altar in the dining hall with our dolls resting in front of Kuan Yin receiving further blessings to come home with us to Australia.

It has been such a joy to me to share this conference with my priestess sister Deborah, such a beautiful women who is such a pleasure to know. We will never forget our memories created here at the conference, we have laughed, cried, and shared such an array of emotions, including germs (the downside of being room buddies). Thank you Deborah.

After lunch we then had the closing ceremony and gift giveaway, straight after which we had to leave to catch the lift back to the Van Nuys Fly Away for our bus to return to Los Angeles. It was such a rush that I don't feel that I got to say goodbye to all the wonderful women that I meet during the conference however I send love and gratitude to you all here.

A quite night then at the hotel in Los Angeles as Deborah is also not well, and she flys to Virginia tomorrow to catch up with friends and have two more weeks of her holiday.

California Day 7

Due to feeling so unwell I have not been getting up to start my day as I always do at conferences with the morning prayer circle and instead took it easy in the room and the lovely Canadian ladies staying next door drove us to the dining hall for breakfast.

The workshop that I attended this morning was with Jacqui Bushell - The Way of the Magdalene. In the workshop living the divine in everyday life as unconditional love in action, in service to the divine, as one with Beloved was the focus.

As the Divine Feminine re-emerges on earth, we are invited to remember once again the joyous way of love and oneness. Through meditation, sacred sound, stories of the life of Mary Magdalene and a profound anointing experience, we were place in touch with our own divinity and were deeply connected to our partner in the workshop in this experiential experience.

Jacqui is able to create such a sense of no judgement, love and unconditional acceptance within the workshop and working together with your chosen partner for the workshop anointing each others feet with water, oils, massage, rose petals and flowers you can not help but be transported to a place of pure love.

It was then time for me to attend the workshop with Lydia Ruyle which I had booked into Finding your Sacred Language Art Workshop.  Art symbols, myths and archetypes are a treasure to explore. We joined the Feminine Muses and creative spirits to find our own symbolic soul language. Then we crafted a silk Khata/prayer scarf.

Lydia is such a gift to the Goddess community of an Elder who so graciously is prepared to impart any knowledge she has, share any learnings she has gained, and share her own essence in order for you to feel special and to create a closer connection to Goddess for yourself.

This workshop was something that I will treasure always having crafted with such a special pure presence with those energies going into my scarf that I may carry it with me always.

We then had a small ritual of sharing our scarfs with each other and explaining the meaning if any in our creation, we then placed our sacred scarfs on the women beside us giving a blessing for them to take away with them.

We then all gathered once again for lunch in the dining hall. I decided to have a reading after lunch with Georgina and waited for my time slot in the vendors hall, however she was well over time and we rescheduled for that evening.

So I attended the next workshop I had chosen in the afternoon with Rev Judith Laxer called Lilith's Truth - Our Legacy of Power.

Both desirable and dangerous Lilith beckons to us from deep within our religious past. Lilith is our instinctive self, now consciously emerging. Knowing Lilith helps women shed their sexual taboos and to see themselves as equal partners in relationships of all kinds. Lilith gifts us with liberation, and in that freedom arises a life of choice and sovereignty.

It was then time for dinner before the concert in the evening. I had dinner and went for my reading and then joined to concert late, but still in time to hear all the singing having only missed some of the dancing.

Here is Julie Felix with the guitar and Rowan Storm with the drum.

Lithia is holding the frame drum dressed in black

 Anique Radiant Heart

Rev Judith Laxer

Hecate's Wheel

Peti Songcatcher

The finale

Then it was to bed as this chest infection has really taken hold and I am now just so tired.

California Day 6

Today was the opening ceremony of the conference where we all gathered and chanted and called in the elements to be present here for each person during the conference.

We then went to our workshops for the morning. Deborah and I both went to hear a round table of multicultural Voices of She of Many Colours - Sharing perspectives and practices of devotion from Bilwarra Lee (Australian Aboriginal GrandMother) Julie Tumamait Stenslie (Chumash Elder Ojai, California) and Letecia Layson as moderator.

After lunch I chose to go to Brooke Medicine Eagle's workshop on the Nine Pointed Star - Awakening in a Golden Time. Native lineages give us powerful spiritual prophecies and metaphors to guide us in this amazing time of awaking into a renewed and bountiful life on this sweet and beautiful Lady Gaia. The nine pointed star, akin to the throat chakra, is central to this dawning time, and using it fully is remarkably empowering. We learnt basic principles, then worked with word and song, chant and dance to uplift our experience and guide us on our sacred walk, our healing path.

We all gathered for our lunch together before heading to our selected workshops for the afternoon.

The next workshop I attended was by Lori C Hops PhD - Mother knows Best - Self Care and the Earth Mother Archetype for Health and Wellbeing. Given how unwell I am at this conference and the end of my holiday I thought there would definitely be a message for me to hear in this workshop.

It reflected on do we put ourselves first, do we treat ourselves with love and respect, releasing blockages and enhancing our inner light. Working with Earth Mothers such as Gaia, Pachamama, Kali, Amma, Mother Meera etc.

Again it was time to each dinner together and then we had ceremony that evening. It was the same ceremony I had attended both in Glastonbury two years ago and in Queensland prior to that, where each participant brings soil and water from there homeland, during the ceremony each person goes to the central area where all the soils and waters are gathered together and mixed together. The water is then poured into the soils and a mud mixture of all the lands of those attending the conference is made, Each person is then offered to go forth and paint there body, face, arms with the mixture as a sign of unity of the women gathered together for the conference.

California Day 4 - 5

Today Deborah and I, after a lazy morning, caught the shuttle to the airport to then catch the Fly Away bus to Van Nuys where we will be collected to go to the venue of the Goddess Spirit Rising Conference in Simi Valley.

We were picked up and taken to the American Jewish University Brandeis - Bardin Campus. Such a large and sprawling complex and self contained accommodation, conference rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, basketball court, 2 pools, horse stables etc.

We settled into our unit which we were very grateful to find had air conditioning as it is so dry and hot. I took it really easy not feeling well. We joined the group for dinner that night in the dining hall.

The next morning was the fringe day of the conference, so we both started our day with morning mediation with Jacqui Bussell, such a lovely way to start the conference.

We went to breakfast and then we had our first workshop that we had selected, as I had not selected a morning workshop I decided to attend Jacqui's workshop on Wild Earth Wisdom.

Such an extraordinary workshop exploring our connection to the earth. When we are aware that the world is alive, we open the doorway into sacred mystery. Connecting our wild heart with the wild soul of nature, we journey into deep communion with land, wind, water, rock and animal, exploring our unique perception and responsiveness to the earth. As we enter into open conversation with the rhythms and scents within nature we know that there is no separation between us and the swoop of the wing, the brush of fur, cry of hawk, greening of leaf. Coming home to that soft borderland where our skin ends and wilderness begins, nothing is outside of ourselves.

We then all gathered for lunch and would then go our separate ways for the afternoon workshops.

When I arrived at the retreat I was told that I had been given a 1 1/2 hour sessions to work in the temple as priestess and this was during and after the lunch time slot. So I quickly ate some lunch and went into the temple which was a sight to behold. I have never seen such a large, elaborately decorated temple. There were maybe 18 different altars etc. I asked the other priestess working with me how long it had taken to set this temple space up and she said three solid days which I totally understood, such a credit to the dedication of the women here.

At most altars there were exercises to do to release and invoke aspects of those elements in your life and a little representation of the element to place in a small calico bag to take home with you as a keepsake of the conference.

The Altar of Air

The Altar to Chak Anna the Argentine Goddess of the Southern Cross

Altar to Bast Eqytian Goddess

Altar to Kuan Yin

Altar to the Cosmos

The Seven Chakra Altar

Altar of Fire

Altar to Goddess Isis

Altar of the Void

This amazing 500 year old wooden statue was just so regal and magficient

Altar of Water

Altar to the Ancestors

Altar to Spirit

Altar to Goddess Coyolxauhqui and Aztec Moon Goddess

Altar to the Moon

The Main Altar divided into four segments honouring the maiden, mother and crone and other goddesses.

In the afternoon I had selected to work with Georgina Sirett Armstrong Smith in Healing the Ice Mothers.

This workshop explored why on earth we choose the mother we had at birth? Has she abandoned you, abused you, do you feel unloved and unsupported by her, did you choose not to have children yourself, were you neglected? What did she teach you about yourself? How can we heal and learn to forgive? Journeying through meditation, art therapy, and craft we learnt that our Mothers had been teaching us all the time,

We made a peg mother doll that can be used as we wish and received a blessing pouch in red from the grandmothers which had a black feather, blue candle, water and a rose petal a blessing from each element.

We gathered together again for dinner and then watched a performance of live theater before listening to a concert by Julie Felix, such an extraordinary performer who is in her 70's and gives a power packed singing performance of sacred music.

California Day 3

Today we drove to Hearst Castle where it's history begins in 1865, when George Hearst purchased 48,000 acres of ranch land at Piedra Blanca Rancho at San Simeon, he later purchased the adjoining Santa Rosa and San Simeon Ranchos. Throughout his life George would use this land as a place of retreat with his family for lavish camping trips.

Growing up George received very little education, but he did learn a lot about the so called 'lay of the land'. The local Indians referred to him as the boy that earth talks to. A self made millionaire, starting with his discovery of silver.

In 1862 George at the age of 41 married Pheobe Apperson Hearst and in 1863 they had their only child William Randolph.

In 1919 William inherited what had grown to more than 250,000 acres, and was dreaming of ways to transform it into a retreat he called La Cuesta Encantada spanish for "Enchanted Hill".

By 1947 William and architect Julia Morgan created Hearst Castle with it's 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways.

At the age of ten Hearst toured Europe with his mother where inspiration rose from the grandeur and scale of the castles, art and history. Hearst enrolled in St Paul's Preparatory School in Concord, New Hampshire at the age of 16, and continued his education at Harvard where he excelled in journalism and acted as the business manager of the Harvard Lampoon.

During his time in Harvard, his father George acquired the San Franciso Examiner, as payment for a gambling debt and soon after Hearst pleaded with his father to turn over the paper to him. In 1887 control was given to his son, shortly after William purchased another newspaper the New York Journal, which would become the second in a long list of newspaper holdings that he acquired in the next decade of his life. At his peak he owned more than 2 dozen newspapers nationwide.

His power and vision allowed him to pursue one of the most ambitious architectural endeavours of American history, the result can be seen in the grounds and structures of Hearst Castle.

Carvings in the ceiling of the assembly room. Every evening Hearst's guests gathered in the splendid social rooms for cocktails, conversation and to meet their host. 

The Refectory was the name given by Hearst and archetitect Julia to the dining room after the word for a monastery's dining hall. The feeling of the middle ages has been achieved with the high windows, bright silk banners and gleaming silver. The setting is just as it was when Mr Hearst was in residence very casual with ketchup and mustard bottles etc.

Again the detail in the carved ceiling is just extraordinary. 

The Billiard Room was a popular spot, the ceiling in this room is a 15th century spanish painted ceiling with scenes of country life, and Flemish tapestry from 1500's.

The theater is where Hearst and Hollywood film star Marion Davies joined guests every night to watch full length movie and newsreel.

The expansive grounds that surround La Cuesta Encantada - The Enchanted Hill have native plants and rare flowers and lush foilage. Neptune Pool is magnificent with colonnades and statues providing the setting for famous pool parties.

The Roman Pool is decorated after ancient Roman Baths with meticulous detail. It is tiled from ceiling to floor and features marble copies of eight ancient Greek and Roman deities and athletes.

After our tour of the castle we went for lunch at Sebastian's store which was special to Deborah as her god son is Sebastian.

We then drove back to Los Angeles to return the car and check ourselves into the hotel for the night. I was very grateful for an early night as the chest infection I have now is really taking its toll on me, I think I have done too much over the last couple of months, together with the heat and not eating and drinking as I should due to the heat, all has caught up with me and I now have my body telling me very clearly to rest and take it easy.