There’s a scene in “Eat, Pray, Love” where Elizabeth Gilbert is in her bathroom on her knees asking God for help and to her surprise she hears an answer. It isn’t a great big boom or an earth-shattering revelation. It is a simple, firm but quiet instruction to go back to bed. But that simple, quiet instruction becomes the moment everything in her life changes.
My life happens to be peppered with those simple, quiet instructions from God and Spirit. These instructions always come in the exact way as Elizabeth Gilbert describes it. Short, blunt but peaceful sentences that set my life on an entirely different course than it was previously on.
The first time it happened I had flunked out of my first year of University. I was lost and heading into a depression. I laid in my bed, looked up at the ceiling and said, “Now what?” to no one in particular. To my surprise, I actually heard a one word answer; “Victoria.” That was it. No explanation. No insight; just “Victoria.” I had never thought about Victoria before. I had no real knowledge about the city of Victoria other than it was a city in British Columbia, my neighboring province. It was a completely random, out of left field answer. I didn’t realize this until just now but I didn’t even think it was odd to hear that voice and I listened to it without questioning it for a second. I went downstairs and told my mom I wanted to go to college in Victoria, B.C. to try and get back into University. With my parents help, I enrolled and moved away that summer.
In Victoria, I healed and found myself again. I received top grades, was in the best shape of my life and glowed with happiness. It was an extremely pivotal year. After the year, I moved back to my home town, graduated University and assumed I would become a teacher but that firm but loving voice returned with other plans. One day, after putting down the phone, I heard the words, “Write this down.” I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and I wrote what the voice continued to say. The voice went on for a while describing a woman and explaining a message she needed to hear. Then, as suddenly as the voice came, it stopped with another firm but loving instruction stating, “Your mom will know who this is for.” I showed my mom the message and she did indeed know who it was for. We hand delivered the message I received and from that moment on, I pivoted on my career path from teacher to messenger for the angels. (You can read more about that story here.)
Years later, that same voice chimed in one day with the simple instruction, “Go here”. I was roaming the internet for something unrelated and landed on a page of an Advaita teacher who was unfamiliar to me. I live in Alberta, Canada. He lives in Sedona. He was an Advaita teacher. I had no idea what Advaita was. I had no intention of traveling but I couldn’t ignore the voice so I booked a flight and enrolled in a satsang he was hosting. Despite not knowing what satsangs were, I listened to the voice and my spiritual life was never the same. During a break in the weekend satsang, I went on a solitary sightseeing walk. At one point along my walk, I stopped and looked over to the red mountain scenery and time stood still. All thoughts fell away and my mind felt like it was no longer confined to my brain. It felt like my mind was the wind and the sun and the mountains. I was everything and everything was me.
The moment came with a sense of peace that has never left. Regardless of whatever drama, emotion, worry, depression, illness has come and gone since then, this tiny center of peace has remained and I’ve been able to witness everything I experience from that center. I’ve been able to observe my thoughts from that center. I’ve been able to watch my emotions crash, fall and rise from that center. And it’s given me this overall sense that no matter what is happening everything is going to be okay because that center is really where I am. The rest is just dramatic moving pictures.
I’ve had a few other pivotal moments in my life when the voice returned with specific instructions but the one I want to write about today is the one that interrupted a quiet moment I was enjoying with my friend. We were sitting on the couches in my living room reading. It’s a secret joy of mine to read with people. I don’t know why I enjoy it so much. It’s not like reading is a team sport but my heart just lights up when I get to do what I love with someone I love beside me. While we were quietly reading, I heard the voice interrupt my silence with a question this time, “Will you devote the rest of your professional life to Divine Mother?” This was the oddest request of all. Divine Mother? Who is Divine Mother? Something in me must know because I said “Yes!” without thinking about it and spontaneously burst into tears.
This brings me to my latest art ritual. I’m at the very beginning of my spiritual journey with Divine Mother. I don’t really feel like I know who Divine Mother is. I have a general idea and I know I relate Mother Mary to her (I was raised as a Catholic) but much like when you’ve been set up on a blind date, I only know minor details. That’s part of the reason I’m writing this blog. I want to share my journey of learning who Divine Mother is. I suspect the journey to discovering who She is will inspire another series of life-changing moments. If the journey inspires life-changing moments for me, perhaps if I share my story, it will inspire life-changing moments for someone else.
It’s really hard to share my journey publicly since it’s such a private, sacred kind of journey. I’ll have to expose my vulnerabilities and ignorance. I’m sure I’ll write things that I’ll later want to take back because I’ve learned something more. It’s different sharing the journey as you walk through it than writing about it at the end when all the pieces have fallen into place. I’ll have to let myself be imperfect and that makes me feel worried about being judged. But I’m going to do it anyway because I’m trying to be a braver person. So if you’re here to witness my journey, be gentle and kind. I don’t really know what I’m doing.
I did decide that solidifying my decision to say yes to Divine Mother was important so I created an art ritual to commemorate it. I came up with this handmade paper invitation on which I wrote my request to have Divine Mother grace my altar.
As I was creating my invitation, I realized Divine Mother had some words she wanted to share with me. This is what I received as her words to me:
The world is starving for Divine Mother energy. Energy that nurtures. Energy that protects. Energy that gives selflessly. Energy that sacrifices for the family – the Earth family.
Many moons ago, in your white Western culture, the Divine Mother was murdered on the altar and replaced with the shadow of the Father – not even with the Divine Father but instead, a power-hungry, murderous father who would banish his children to suffer in pain for all eternity! It is time now to return the Mother to the altar. Return the Divine Mother and the Divine Father to lead this family to peace.
The Divine Mother should be held in the arms of Divine Father. She should be supported and ready to birth Love into the world. A devotion to Divine Mother is a devotion to caring for everyone – including yourself and the planet. This is what your culture is missing. Other religions, faiths and cultures have it but yours, the consumerist Western culture, does not. This is what your culture needs to make more room for – the simple act of caring; the simple act of divine mothering. When you care for someone or something you take an interest in them. You appreciate and enjoy them. You are concerned about their well-being. You are attentive and tender. You worry about their needs and you do what you can to help them meet their needs. You listen and try to understand. You provide a safe space to be heard. You provide a warm space to be held. You communicate your affection and you are sensitive to their wounds. You are kind, thoughtful and gentle. Even if they are different.
World peace is no more complicated than that.
But the shadow image of the Father judges, rejects, banishes, punishes and attacks. This leads to conflict. This leads to war.
Who sits on your altar controls your heart and rules your mind. Who are you devoted to? Are you devoted to Love or are you devoted to Attack? Make no mistake about it. If a judgmental, punishing, fearful God sits on your altar, you, my child, are devoted to Attack and you will attack the earth, the animals and your brothers and sisters. And you will feel justified in your attack because you will be living in the image of your god.
Dana, it is time to bring the Divine Mother back to grace your altar and your celebrations because the Mother within you and the Mother in the planet wants to heal the suffering. She wants to soothe the pain and comfort the wounded. She wants to wrap all her children in her arms and return them to Love.
I sat with her words and realized I’ve never believed in a judgmental God. It just never rang true for me. But it did ring true for the religion I grew up in. And I do worry about being attacked by other people, I do carry a lot of guilt and I do have a voice within me that secretly believes everything is always my fault. All of this does cause me to act protective and defensive and many opportunities where I could have acted with Love, I reacted with an ugly combination of attack and defense. And I do believe that if I can’t explore how to move from these attack/defense tendencies in my personal relationships then I will never understand how to be the peaceful change I want to see in this world. I’ve studied A Course in Miracles for years and co-created a therapy approach based on it’s principles so although I would not have worded it the way I received it from Divine Mother, I definitely welcome her to teach me more about putting Love in action in my life and in my world. I guess only time will tell where this goes.
As for the invitation, I think it’s a pretty way to keep a handwritten letter on the altar. This particular letter, I imagined as a scroll invitation being delivered by a man on a horse that would read…
You are hereby cordially invited to grace the altar of one Mrs. Dana da Ponte.
I didn’t write it that way but I liked the formal quality of creating the scroll.
If you would like to create your own handmade paper ritual to invite Divine Mother (or any other spiritual deity) to grace your altar, this is how I did it.
I collected scraps of paper from my recycling bin.
I searched the internet to find instructions on how to easily make handmade paper. I liked this site’s clear instructions so I followed them and asked my husband to make the frame with screen stapled to it. My husband, being the kind man he is, gladly obliged. Next, I put my scraps of paper in a blender and filled it with water.
The next step was more ritual than craft. I tuned in and decided which oils, plants and flowers I wanted to mix in with my paper. I chose to add as many flowers as I could, especially roses since I associate them with Mother Mary. I also added specks of gold because it felt regal to me and like I was honoring the Queen of Love. I added Lavender essential oils because I thought it should smell peaceful and floral. With each plant, flower and oil, I prayed, invoked Divine Mother, spoke to her with my own ideas about what our relationship might be and told her about the special place I was making in my heart and on my altar for Her and Her mission of Love. This step was as pretty as it was sacred.
After this meditative step, I turned the blender on until a gooey mush formed. I poured the gooey paper mush in the screened frame my husband made.
I then removed the frame from the tray and soaked the water up from the paper with a paper towel. A note about environmentalism here, I should have used a sponge. It makes no sense to recycle paper only to create more paper garbage by using paper towels. Duh, Dana!
I then removed the frame and continued to soak up more water.
It didn’t take long for the paper to be dry enough to remove from the screen. (Those are my husband’s hands. He wanted to help and see how his paper making frame worked.)
One blender full of gooey paper much made three pieces of paper. Once the pieces of paper were mostly dry, I placed a thin towel over them and ironed them out flat with my clothes iron.
I only needed one piece of paper for the remainder of the ritual so I chose that one piece and wrote my invitation to Divine Mother with a nice fountain pen a friend shared with me.
After my heartfelt letter was written, I gathered two sticks and some ribbon and turned on my glue gun. I glued a piece of ribbon in the middle of each stick and I glued each end of the handmade paper to a stick.
I love the way it turned out and it smells as pretty as it looks.
Here are the easy-to-print instructions if you’d like to recreate this ritual for yourself.
- recycled paper pieces
- mould & deckle (a screened frame)
- clothes iron
- 2 sticks of relatively the same size
- 2 pieces of ribbon
- hot glue gun
- lavender essential oil (optional)
- rose petals (optional)
- dried lavender (optional)
- gold leaf specks (optional)
- grains of paradise (optional)
- basil (optional)
- dried chamomile (optional)
- Fill your blender loosely with recycled paper pieces. Don't compress them as they will bind up your blender.
- Add water to cover all the paper.
- Add to the water and paper whatever elements you want to ritualistically infuse in your handmade paper.
- Blend it all together until it's a watery gooey paper mush.
- Place your mould and deckle at the bottom of your tray and pour the paper mush into the tray until all parts of the screen are covered.
- Remove the mould and deckle from the tray and pat the watery mush down with a sponge removing water carefully until the paper feels flat, compressed and damp.
- Remove the overlapping frame and pat down the paper some more releasing more water.
- When the paper feels ready, remove it from the screen and place it somewhere to dry. You may have to allow it to dry overnight or to speed it up, you can blow dry it.
- Once it is dry, place a thin towel over the paper and use your hot iron to flatten the paper.
- Your paper is now ready to write your letter inviting Divine Mother or your deity to grace your altar.
- Glue a piece of ribbon to each of the two sticks you collected.
- Glue each end of your letter to a stick.
- Carefully roll your paper on both ends to meet the sticks in the middle. The paper will rip if you go too quickly.
- Wrap the ribbon around your scroll and tie a bow to seal it.
- Place your invitation in a special place on your altar.
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