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Excavating Power's Sacred Face

When I was young, I excavated an ancient nugget from the mud of my 20th century mind. Even though I could not name this long-buried relic, once I found it I could not stop scraping away bits of soil in order to reveal all its facets. Over the years of excavation it became clear that this inner artifact was some primeval talisman related to being a woman. It was the vessel that held true power; it was the Sacred Woman within -- She Who could remake me and the world as we should be, She Who I could have been if I had always lived in a time and place where my being, voice, and actions were valued and encouraged.

At times, Sacred Woman kept me from finding contentment, tore me apart. At those times, I said to myself "Oh, that I had never unearthed this artifact."

I first dug into the soil of my soul and glimpsed the artifact's glimmer when I was 17. I had entered a suicidal depression. I envisioned myself at the bottom of a miles-deep pit with rocky sides. I was called back by the voice of a woman who had the same Sacred-Woman power. The unbending way she held her body and the look in her eye were a statement of power for me: "I will not be exiled from my own life. The world is mine to enjoy as I please." Like a lens, she focused light on the relic so that I could find it, though I could barely make out its outline.

I believed that, like the artifact brought up from the depths, I was reborn in that moment. I determined to recreate myself in the image I had seen reflected in that woman, never again to be judged by someone else's strictures. I became, I thought, Sacred Woman by dressing in velvets and silks, living for poetry, recreating my body with make-up and hair dye; walking with grace and self-assurance, and dancing always. Dancing had taught me from childhood that my body was sacred; dancing was my bridge from past to future as I learned that my inner being was as sacred as my dancing body.

Years passed. The more I entered into the world outside myself, the more I realized how impossible it was for that Sacred-Woman self to exist in my daily life or that of most women living on earth. I worked with women who were abused, who had survived with almost no material resources, whose minds and souls were truly tormented, and all the while I faced the difficult truth that I couldn't change the root causes of their misery. In my helplessness, I saw the power of the Sacred Woman as a delusion, and back She went into the quicksand of my soul.

Depression returned, physical illnesses multiplied, creativity withered. Because I had tasted the Sacred Woman's power, I could not return to the familiar world I had been born into, take solace in its religions, or lose myself in the assurance of identity from career or family. Though I felt myself to be frail and out-of-focus, others sometimes still seemed to see in me the Sacred Woman I had once thought myself to be. Those in trouble asked me for counsel. I was offered leadership. I had words about my life published as if I had something of importance to say.

One day recently my Sacred Woman returned, uncalled for, when I was asked at a circle what my passion was. What was the work that gave my life purpose? At that moment, as I described what seemed like small, insignificant acts, Sacred Woman arose within me and possessed me. I realized to my surprise that she had never left, but that I had made Her invisible because I thought She must not exist. I realized that She had guided my hands, my speech, my words -- all that I had done, whether writing, protesting, forcing myself to speak more gently to my child, and thousands of other actions. As other women in the circle responded to the same question, more dirt and debris that had encrusted my Sacred Woman since I abandoned Her fell away. By the time they were done, She stood before me again, living and breathing.

What moved me was the power of the women's presence, of the changes they had inspired and created simply by being who they most truly were. I realized that this authenticity is behind every real change in the world. Perhaps this is even the power of Creation itself, as Goddess brings into being all that exists simply by the unstoppable force of being who She most truly is. When we live in a way to which we feel especially called and make the world more as it should be, even when what we do seems trivial, She grows within us, transforming us.

Each authentic act is equally important, no matter how "mundane" or "exotic," when done as an act of the Sacred Woman.

Living the Sacred Woman Within is something we must each do — with every breath, with every act, with every expression of who we are. Living with the power of the Sacred Woman, we may nurture our children differently from how our parents raised us, or we may put our lives in danger by going to places where others are the most victimized, or we may be kind to everyone we check out when we cashier at Walmart. Each authentic act is equally important, no matter how "mundane" or "exotic," when done as an act of the Sacred Woman. Each act moves the world one step closer to a time when power will be liberating and life-giving; when She will no longer be the object of an archaeological dig in the deep recesses of our souls but a beacon guiding us into a new way of life, a future of authentic living and authentic voices that birth and nurture true, Sacred power.

Graphics Credits

  • excavating Power's sacred face, digital collage © Sage Starwalker. All rights reserved.
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