Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

A reader posted this as a comment about my posting, “What the Groundhog is Really Telling Us” on my Huffington Post column. I had to share it!

 

ARISE

As nature slowly awakens,

And slowly opens her eyes,

Another new dawn on spring,

And slowly brightening skies.

A spark of inspiration,

Another touch of sun,

Amongst a snowy blanket,

Another winters nearly done.

And at the coldest time of year,

The smallest beasts arrive,

And grow the smallest seedlings,

We pray they all survive.

Its here we plant our wishes,

And steadily watch them grow,

With good intentions throughout the year,

And a fruitful bright tomorrow.

Blue skies; green trees for cover,

Brown earth; she is your bed,

Bird chorus; your alarm clock,

Spring grass; to rest your head.

– by Andrea Gibbons 2007

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

February 2 marks the exact halfway point of winter. Along with the two equinoxes, two solstices and the three other seasonal midpoints, it is one of the eight energy-filled sacred days in the pagan calendar.

Purification is the recurrent mythic and symbolic theme of midwinter festivals in many places. Purification suggests the cleansing of our spirits as part of the careful preparations for the coming of the springtime light. Clearing the way with the fiery brilliance of insight, which comes from visiting the deep, dark internal winter of our souls and seeing therein our own part in the constant and continually changing cycles of life.

It is in midwinter when the land is gripped in death that Ceres, the old Goddess of Good Grain and All Fertility (who later became Demeter in Greek mythology) descends to the underworld in pursuit of Her dear lost daughter, Persephone. Disconsolate, Ceres explores the far reaches of the territories of Hades and Her own private hell; Her journey lit by a single candle. The impassioned determination of Her search and Her ultimate discovery sheds the first glimmer of light in the indelible dark of winter. It is the creative spark of full consciousness. With the light from Her candle we can begin to see the spiritual direction of the new cycle.

In Greece there is an underground sanctuary dedicated to Hades, God of the Underworld, and Persephone, his stolen bride. For millennia, pilgrims have made their way to the Nekyomanteion of Ephra, a labyrinthine arrangement of spiral-shaped rooms and passageways carved into the belly of Mother Earth. Manteionmeans “a place in which one hears prophesy” and nekyo or necro, refers to the dead.

Petitioners descend deep into the divine womb by way of a serpentine tunnel leading to a cavernous dark chamber, which sits above a crypt. There, encouraged by Cere’s resolve, in the unsteady light of just one torch, they consult the oracles of the dead for inspiration, for direction. “It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness,” their motto.

Midwinter was celebrated as Imbolc by the ancient Celts, and also as an early Gaelic fire festival. Both were held in honor of Bridget, a.k.a. Brigid, Bride, Brigetis, the Northern White Goddess, guardian of the home fire and hearth. Fire was the symbol of Her white-hot mystic magic. The intense heat of the flame represents Her fervent faith in the return of the light to the world. Today, the day belongs to Her spiritual daughter, Saint Brigid, adored patron saint of Ireland.

The hagiographic accounts of St. Brigid are few, flimsy and quite transparent. She was allegedly Ireland’s first convert to Christianity and the founder of that country’s first convent in the fifth century. She continued to be honored just as the Goddess was before her and the worship practice of Her devotees did not change over the centuries.

A holy fire, reminiscent of those kept constantly burning by the worshippers of her earlier goddess incarnation, was maintained at Her shrine in Kildare until it was finally ordered doused by the Church in the thirteenth century. Until not so long ago, domestic fires were routinely extinguished on Her day, February 1, and then rekindled and blessed in a preparatory act of purification.

In Rome, the midwinter day belonged to Juno Februata, virgin mother of Mars. Februare, in Latin, means “to expiate, to purify.” Here, too, fires were lit, and candles were blessed and burned in Her honor. Women also continued to carry candles in street processions at this same time of year in memory of Ceres’ candle-lit search below ground.

Determined to stem this irritating and irrepressible goddess worship, Pope Sergius claimed this pagan holiday for the Church. Renamed, Candlemas, February 2, was to be celebrated as the feast of the purification of the Virgin Mary forty days after She had given birth. The observance, however, remained the same — the blessing and burning of candles for Our Lady of Light.

All of these purification ceremonies of renewed fire suggest a clearing of humanity’s earthly orientation in order to be open to the growing divine light of the coming spring, the reassuring light at the end of the long, dark winter tunnel.

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

I have grown to love winter. It is a time of being home and laying low. A time of making soup and catching up on my ironing. A time of long, indulgent hot baths and slow starting mornings in bed with a cup of tea and a good book.

During February I will be sharing articles about Domestic Queens, Introverted Queens, Privacy Seeking Queens, Self-Loving Queens, and Literary Queens. And as always, I ask you to please share your stories on these themes.

 

A Place Called “Home”

Sister Joan Chittister

In each of us there is a place where we go in the middle of chaos to escape from the fray. It is that “home” place, that hiding place, that soft place where no memories of it come with ragged edges and no thought of it is tinged with fear. It’s an empty beach, perhaps. Or a hidden place on the bluff above town where we remember being able to see everything while no one could see us.

It is the place of our dreams and the hope of our hopes.

It’s that place to which we return in our minds to change life in the middle of too much life for us to take just then.

It’s that natural place within us where the roar of the water or the silence of the mountains or the warmth of the desert or the moss of the swamp soothes our souls and makes us feel human again, at one with the universe again, in control again.

Whatever it is, wherever it is, it calms us and makes us new again.

For me, ironically, that special place was right in the center of the city. In the very shadows of the city buildings lay a world beyond the world. It was the public dock on the bay of one of the Great Lakes, where tourists came to fish and sail and ride on a water taxi from the mainland over to the peninsula. Nothing more than a hotdog was ever sold there. There were no bands, no arcade games, no skate-board parks. It was commercially non-commercial. And yet it was my own small planet. There in that place everyone walked more slowly than usual, talked in more measured tones, dared to sit alone on the breakwall in total silence. There you could simply be yourself, no airs, no deadlines, no pressure, nothing false to serve or adore. Nothing that required us to bow down before it. There we just all melted into nature.

It is that kind of place of which the Flemish artist, Pieter Bruegel, the Elder, paints. His work, called genre painting, is a call to us to understand the relationships we build between who we are and where we are. He reminds us of our place in the universe, small, simple and sustained by the world around us.

In our own day, when technology has trumped nature, we would do well to sink into Bruegel’s work and remember who we are. We would do well to realize that those “home” places we all need and seek out in a time of the mechanical, the digital, the virtual and the plastic are calling us to the center of our real selves. We must remember that it is the self for which we are seeking when we leave our worlds of glitz and glamour and sink into the real world. It is environment that shapes us and it is the natural to which we must, like Bruegel, cling when everyone else abandons it or lose the very soul of our lives.

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

January is Self-love month. And if it weren’t, I, Queen Mama Donna, would declare it so! So for the rest of the month I will focus on the ways that we can show love and support to ourselves.

There is only one person who is absolutely guaranteed to be with you loyally every day until you die. So you might as well live her! Will you join me in showering your Self with love starting right now?

 

A great way to pamper yourself with the attention and affection that we all crave — that we lavish on others, but never think to give to ourselves — is to have a love affair with your Self.

These exercises in Self-appreciation and devotion are not meant to seal yourself off from others forever, or to replace any current or future relationships, but to make sure that you do not get involved for the wrong reasons — out of fear or desperation.

You will emerge from these Self-love exercises with the secure knowledge that you are your own best lover. And when and if you choose, you are able to share that love with someone special, who will understand just how precious it is and return it in kind.

An affair with your Self enables you to know, own and honor yourself as a unique and individual entity. To admit your abilities and limitations, your talents and truculence on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual planes, and love your Self unconditionally with compassion and no judgment attached.

Self-love is so important, because the only person who is guaranteed to be with you forever until the day you die is you.

Get to know your Self

  • Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, your fears and fantasies.
  • Spend some quality time alone together — just you, yourself and you.
  •  Turn off the computer, the phone, the fax, and the TV.
  • Put on your favorite music, or simply savor the silence.
  • Entertain a program of non-directed Self-discovery.
  • Stare out the window or into a candle flame or a mirror.
  • Clear your mind of inner chatter and let it wander where it will.

Take interest in your Self

  • Engage in projects of Self-expression in order to reconnect with your higher nature and your inner best Self.
  • Do an exercise tape.
  • Go for a run, walk, swim, or bike ride.
  • Read your Tarot cards. Consult the I Ching. Do yoga.
  • Meditate. Drum, chant, dance.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Transcribe your dreams.
  • Create an altar.
  • Paint a picture or your walls.
  • Sing silly songs.
  • Have a good cry.
  • Pound on pillows and scream.
  • Laugh out loud.

Please your Self

  • Work at establishing a warm, rich atmosphere for your own physical comfort and aesthetic enjoyment.
  • Indulge in a variety of sensory delights.
  • Surround yourself — your body, your home and to whatever degree possible, your office — with the colors, textures, sounds and smells that you love and that express your personality.
  • Light candles and incense.

Court your Self

  • Get all dressed up purely for the fun of it.
  • Take yourself on a dream date.
  • Go somewhere you have been meaning to go.
  • Do things that you love.
  • Buy yourself special treats.
  • Compliment yourself, applaud and appreciate your strength and your beauty.
  • Whisper sweet somethings in your ear.
  • Tickle your fancy.
  • Pull down the shades, turn off the lights and dance till you drop.
  • Massage your body with sweet oils.
  • Kiss yourself.
  • Make hot love to your Self.
  • Make yourself a marvelous breakfast in the morning.
  • Send yourself flowers with a note saying, “I love you.”

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.