I consider the title Aunt Lydia a noble one. If you believe you choose your parents when you are born into this world, then I must believe you choose your aunts too.
Aunt Lydia and I had something very special. A sacred contract of sorts. She has literally been part of my life since I was born. As a young mother, she was not only taking care of her three children but also of me and my brother while my mother finished her medical residency – so she was tending to five of us all under the age of four.
She used to tell people that there were points during that time when she considered killing us or killing herself… that is until one day… she decided to start painting. So for all our sakes (and the world’s), we’re really glad she discovered art. Continue reading "A Tribute to my Aunt Lydia Ruyle"
Once, long ago, a goddess, born of the Moon and equal in glory to all other deities, ruled an ancient city. In her youth, she planted a tree on the banks of a life-giving river that flowed through her Garden. The wood of this tree was strong yet flexible, and it grew alongside the goddess until they both reached maturity. When the goddess in her was ready to claim her sovereignty, she went to her tree to make the emblems of her power, the throne from which she would rule and the bed from which her sacred sexuality and fertility would be celebrated.
But when she got to the tree she found that others had made it their home. A great snake, representing the oldest chthonic deities of life, death, and rebirth, had made its home in the roots of her tree. In the tree’s soaring branches, a great bird of wind and storm had made its nest. In the very center of the tree was a dark maid, who was the young goddess’s shadow self, embodying an insatiable sexuality.
In order for her to claim her sovereignty, she would have to conquer these beings.
I am the sheath of the sword. I am toothed, armed, and ready to bite. I have the power to defend, to keep women safe. I am not passive, accepting, ready to be filled. I am aware, watchful, ready to reject what I don’t want and to seize what I will.
Listen to me and I will tell you how safe we are, right now, in this moment. When we are secure, I am open and receptive, moist and inviting. When we feel threatened, I become cold and hard, hot and tight, irritated, and inflamed. If the danger goes on and on, I weep, I am overrun.
In health and joy, I am a rich and thriving ecosystem: friendly yeasts, beneficial bacteria, and a generous assortment of slippery, slidey lubricants thrive in my tangy-tasting depths.
This summer, I made a Crone’s garden. Not with plants, but with fabric. In July, I found myself on a silent retreat entitled Gardens of the Spirit, at Woodbrooke, the Quaker College in Birmingham. I’d booked it months before, attracted mainly by the silence and the working method - I forgot all about the theme until the detailed information about the programme arrived a couple of weeks before. I was not pleased – I’d spent quite a lot of time in the previous six weeks trying to create some order in my own overgrown garden and the last thing I wanted was more gardening. Or so I thought.
The course started with a plethora of postcards –we had to wander round and choose two each, which would travel through the retreat with us. Or, more accurately, let two choose us. And this one chose me. Quite obviously Crone – wise, insightful, benign, but also shrewd, a stander-of-no-nonsense. From then on, the retreat went Her way. Quite clearly, she had to have a garden. I bent the gentle suggestions of the facilitators to suit.
Having found my Crone I started to feel for what kind of garden she would have. Woodbrooke has a good art room so there was a lot to play with. I found a straightforward piece of embroidery fabric in the bottom of a box of bits and then collected lots of other things. I was intrigued that I didn't feel the garden ought to have walls. Fuzzy boundaries through fraying the fabric felt right. Being frayed at the edges feels fairly normal, to me…. Continue reading "A Crone’s Garden"