Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

 by Mary Saracino 

Author’s note: As part of her Earth Day-Sing for the Trees campaign, Susan Hale invites people from around the world to sing to their special trees to help raise awareness about deforestation.


If you listen you can hear
the trees singing
boababs & kauri
sugi & sugar maples
their voices
rise in harmony
Norway spruce & sequoia
ginkos & elms
across the wide round world
yews & oolines
Persian mulberries & pomegranates
one steady stream
magnolia amazonica & aspen
wattle trees & oaks
one impassioned aria
crab apple & peach
olive & fig
singing, singing, singing
lnut & cedrela odorata
mahogany & beni kawa
of peace & love
joy & justice
Divi-divi & wabito
amla & okagami
of sorrow & solace
laughter & lullabies
Chinese catalpa
Buddha coconuts
reminding us to
balsam & fur
cedar & chestnut
sing with them
pawpaw & persimmon
leatherwood & larch
breathe in
breathe out
kapok & karri
willows & birch
sigh
dance
ghost gum & guava
maiden’s blush & mangosteen
play
cry
avacado & acacia
banana & buckeye
save our lives
sumac & Satsuma
sassafras & silverberry
save our planet.

 

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers 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.

 

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Being an urban being, I have never had a garden where I grew food. My terrace is devoted exclusively to flowers, food for the soul, for sure, but with the exception of the day lilies they are not edible.

My container garden gives me immense pleasure. I love digging in the dirt with my bare hands. No gloves or trowels for this Queen, thank you very much. I cherish the feel of the earth on my skin and don’t mind getting it under my nails. That is why the Goddess invented scrub brushes and soap, after all. I even make my own rich fertile soil by composting dead leaves and food scraps in a garbage pail.

I can spend hours on end dead heading my plants and picking off the dry leaves one by one. I tend my garden with love and care and it cultivates me in return. My plants are my dear friends, my children, really. They have been with me, loyally flourishing and flowering for decades. All of my geraniums, for instance, are from cuttings from one small plant that I had on my windowsill in my Greenwich Village apartment in 1969!

My ceremonial space, Mama Donna’s Tea Garden & Healing Haven is an indoor garden paradise decorated with vintage yard furniture and filled with plants. Some of these I have had for 30 years or more. Some I have inherited from family and friends who have passed on. I am so glad to be the caretaker of these living memorials. Their spirit is alive in the plants that they loved and nurtured. And everyone who enters this sacred space feels the green healing energy.

Once upon a time I grew weed(s) for imbibing from the seeds in my stash. This crop, too, was food for my soul. But that was then and this is now. And now I am drawn to plant and raise some foodstuff. My options are limited by space constraints, but the time feels right to start with some herbs and maybe some berries or baby lettuces. Or maybe it is too late for this season. I don’t know. I will have to do some research. What I do know is that I want to taste what I grow.

The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby — how could anything so beautiful be mine. And this emotion of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year. There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown. -Alice B. Toklas

With best blessings for nourishment from Mother Earth,

xxQMD

 

* ***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers 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.

 

 

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In winter, we spend inordinate amounts of time inside, dwelling, stewing, stagnating in enforced inactivity. When our hibernating energy finally re-awakens in the spring, it is with a pronounced case of morning breath. After the dust, the must, the rust of winter, a thorough spring cleaning is called for.

The promise of renewed life prompts us to prepare a sacred and auspicious way for its anticipated arrival. We are moved to purge and purify ourselves, to cleanse and make our selves worthy of the grace implied in a fresh start. We make a clean sweep of our surroundings — internal and external, body and soul.

In washing, we symbolically shed the old, discard the past, toss it out with the bath water. Thus removed of any spiritual pollution, we emerge refreshed, restored and recharged. Our slates are wiped clean. Naked and pure, purged and protected, we stand sanctified, ready to step confidently into the new season.

We come to this world awash in saline womb waters and are greeted upon the moment of our first breath with a warm bath. When we die we are bathed again. We wash before we eat, before we sleep, before we pray. Most cultures, in fact, require washing before worship. Here, the ablution marks the transition from the profane sector of life to the sacred.

Islam requires the worshipper to wash before each of the five daily prayers performed facing toward Mecca. Muslims cleanse their mouths so that their prayers will be sanctified, and their ears so that they might better hear the will of Allah.

The Sweat Lodge Ceremony, the Inipi, as it is known to the peoples of the Great Plains, was prevalent throughout Native North America. It was, and still is, undertaken as a preparatory ritual of purification before a major spiritual endeavor, such as the Vision Quest, the Sun Dance or the Spirit-calling Ceremonies.

Water is considered to be the most efficacious purifying agent by Hindus because when it runs, it absorbs and it carries away pollution. For this reason, rivers and other moving waters are considered to be especially cleansing. The Ganges, although filthy, is the most holy of all. It is the intention of every devout pilgrim to wash in its soul-cleansing substance.

The priestesses and priests of Babylonia cleansed themselves with water from the Tigris or Euphrates rivers before performing their religious functions. In ancient Egypt, as well, the pharaoh would purify his body for prayer by sprinkling himself with the “water of life and good fortune.” Ceremonial ablutions in the sea were used to initiate participants in a process of spiritual rebirth during the Eleusinian Mysteries, the oldest of the Greco-Roman Goddess mystery cults.

Proselytes to Judaism were bathed as an initiation rite, which sanctified the start of their new lives, reborn as true believers, members of the chosen people of the God of Israel, Yahweh. It was essential for the candidate to be completely immersed so that s/he might be truly cleansed of heathenish worship.

The Baptism rites of Protestant and Catholic alike, cleanse the way for a worshipper to move from the polluted world to the holy church, from the earthly plane to grace, from sin to salvation. Ultimately it is an initiation into the kingdom of God.

…I guess I feel about a hot bath the way those
religious people feel about holy water… The longer
I lay there in the clear hot water the purer I felt,
and when I stepped out at last and wrapped myself
in one of those big, soft, white, hotel bath towels
I felt pure and sweet, as a new baby.”
– Sylvia Plath

Cleanliness is widely perceived as being next to Godliness. The Christian concept of heaven, like the paradise envisioned by Zoroastrians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims, is a place of absolute purity and brilliant cleanliness, while hell is seen as a stinking foul pit.

People have always used clean water to prepare for reverent engagement with the divine. But these days, really clean water is in shockingly short supply. We have sullied our rich resources with obtuse abuse, and the very elements, which have the power to cleanse and purify have now, themselves, been poisoned.

Picture this: In the Arctic Ocean there is an uninhabited — never been inhabited — island. In the center of the island is a lake. Can you possibly imagine a more pristine image? A recent water sample from that lake revealed the presence of fifty-two chemicals. There is, after all, no wall underground to ward off contamination. And there is no such place as Away.

It’s time to clean up our act, don’t you think? In fact, let’s start this spring.

He had a mania for washing and disinfecting
himself…. For him the only danger came from
the microbes which attack the body. He had
not studied the microbe of conscience which
eats into the soul.
– Anaïs Nin

With best blessings for a beautiful and pure spring,

xxQMD

* ***
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers 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.

 

 

 

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An unprecedented number — nearly one fourth — of Baby Boom women chose not to bear and raise children. But we were archetypal Mothers, nonetheless. We gave birth to something of our passion — a business, a career, an art form, a political involvement, a spiritual practice — and nurtured it to keep it alive.

We created our own ways of being and served as role models, mentors, and teachers to the generations of young women who followed us. Who benefited from our endeavors and learned from our examples. Or rejected them.

Those of us who did have children are now experiencing an empty nest or anticipating one. We are no longer 24/7 mothers and have a completely different relationship to our kids. Many of us are grandmothers. (Who would have ever imagined that?)

And now as we reach a certain age and our own mothers are passing from this life, we are called upon to mother ourselves.

I invite you to share your thoughts, stories, and experiences of the many modes and moods of motherhood.

~~~~~

I went to a Catholic Church on Mothers Day and the priest asked all mothers to come to the front of the church for a special blessing. Even though I do not have children, I went up to be blessed as a mother. Since I have been performing as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I felt free to receive this blessing.

I have always made art about my life. Now that I have Dystonia (a neurological movement disorder in which sustained muscle contractions cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures), I have made videos about it and performances about it and more recently, found myself “being” Mother Teresa of Calcutta, as a performance. When I put on the Mother Teresa white sari with blue trim, apply the make up and play the audiotape of her talking about the poorest of the poor, I feel as if I am doing a real and positive honor to her memory.

My body goes into a big spasm as soon as I put on the costume. My experience while doing this performance is that I have the freedom to twist and turn and shake and am not self-conscious or embarassed by my tremors or stooped posture, because I am just a person with a movement disorder! In fact, I am not just any person but as Mother Teresa, I am a saint who has aged and is cramped up from having served millions of people all her life! The movement disorder in this case becomes a badge of courage and symbol of holiness, not something that is shameful or to be hidden!

So again, I have used my life, to make good art and I thank Mother Teresa of Calcutta for letting me see through her eyes. Maybe she will even heal me???

– Linda Montano, NY

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers 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.

 

 

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