February 13, 2018

In Praise of Uglines

I don’t really know how to say what is rising in me to be spoken, but I know that I want to speak in praise of ugliness.  And I’m not really sure that it’s ugliness exactly that I am speaking to, but somehow that phrase holds power for me, like a magical spell, a key to undo some patriarchal padlock inside of me, a portal of permission and a doorway into unchartered territories. What if we were allowed to be ugly?

I deeply feel and am witnessing at this time the blessed rising of the feminine consciousness in our human world and that makes me so happy, because I have lived in the grief of Her absence from the world of my culture for my entire life, whilst internally I have celebrated with Her in the wild places of the Earth, I have met Her in my dreams and long have I felt Her tenacious nudge to awaken a space for Her within me, to find the myriad of ways  that I could let Her sing Her song through me, to allow Her to rise and shine within my skin, to give Her a voice in this crazy world we have made. 

I feel Her now nudging me to name something uncomfortable about the way we as a culture, and me as an individual identifying as woman, commodify and pornography and sanitise the feminine, as She expresses Herself in woman and in man. The way She is crippled, bound and gagged with the imperative for beauty and desirability, with the inbuilt shackles of the insidious suggestion that you can do anything in this life as long as you look sexy and gorgeous doing it. She is of course deeply, deeply full of beauty, but She is not aware of Herself as being this. She is purely aware of Herself as life moving itself in primal and instinctual expression, an eternal manifestation of the life/death/rebirth reality of existence. She might be beautiful but She is also ugly, if She wants to be. She is deeply life-giving , but She is also fearsomely destructive and death-wielding if that is what is required of Her.

I think as women in our culture we are unaware of how conditioned we are to be perpetually aware of our own desirability, our willingness to be sold back to ourselves by the paradigm which contains and tames and domesticates our identities. This makes sense because it is the way in which we have been allowed to be powerful in a world  that has hinged upon the suppression of our primal, chthonic power as human beings. And how transitory is this lens of beauty that to varying degrees holds us all captive, how hard we must work and strive to belong to it, even when we are doomed by our flesh or our skin, by our unconventional longings and wayward imperatives, by our inevitable ageing and the inconvenient afflictions of ill health or disability. Even when it is clearly unattainable for us, this idealisation of feminine beauty, holds sway in the psyche, still we strive to deserve the approval of an objectifying eye that holds no care for our wellbeing, as though beauty were a pair of psychic callipers restricting unadulterated expression.

I wonder if the wild feminine can come into her full expression in our world or within ourselves until we allow ourselves to be pure conduits for Her emergence. Utterly unashamed of our embodiment, in all its real, messy power. What if we said yes to being Her embodied expression in all Her myriad forms, not just the fluid divinity of her grace, not just when she’s looking fine and sexy, but also in the bone-crunching wrenching away of the unreal, in the furious devotion to creation, in the guttural grief, the sacred rage, the harrowing keen, the raucous ululation?

Our survival-instinct, as women and men who are saying yes to the awakening of this suppressed force of our nature, in a world that has subjugated this imperative for millennia, has often been to exist within the performative parameters of the aspects of our otherness that have been tamed and permitted by the dominant culture, but what we are given to play with is far from the truth of what it is to be a woman, or to be a being awake to their feminine nature, a being beyond the dominance of an external gaze, a being governed by her sovereign instinct with no will to please but for a fierce commitment to move the transmutational energy through, the ferocity to cut off that which is not life-giving, to be infinitely tender in her care and custodianship, in the glorious capacity to be undone in the feeling of creation birthing itself into being through the body.

What would it mean to be unleashed from imperatives of domesticated aesthetics, and polite desirability and acculturated submission, when as woman our bodies are flooded with transmutational orgasm, the cosmos coursing through the crown to the sacred portal of bliss that swells within our yoni, within our cervix, our womb; or when we crown and bring our babies through from the other side, through our bloodied thighs, to our ravaged bellies, forever changed, motherborn; or when our heart’s become cascading torrents of formidable compassion and ferocious care, energetically weaving safe harbour and heartfull sanctuary to the subjugated and abandoned, to the weak and the exiled; or when the rhythm and tide of the drum pulses through our being so that we are taken over by the force and power of the primal, breaking through our cells to be expressed in the sublime magnificence of our unmediated expression;  when we are taken over, lost, consumed by the offering of our work in the world, the birthing of something real and life-giving, calling form from the formless, wooing love from the void, making personal the impersonal. Does it matter then, if she’s pretty? Does she need to be beautiful? Does it matter if she’s desirable to a misogynistic gaze? Does it matter if her butt looks good in that dress, if her hair is done, if her body is untameable, if she’s lost sight of the stereotype?

I hunger for the ugly in this sanitised world. I hunger for the raw and the unmediated. I hunger for the sovereignty to not bind myself with the imperatives of a gaze that would keep me small and controllable and compliant to a system that is raping our earth as it rapes the psyches of its people. I hunger to claim back my right to look exactly the way I do, to move as I see fit, to express what emotes, to love what arrises, to reprieve myself from the hyper vigilant “not-enoughness” of my subservience, because I never was here to be an ornament, or to please the gaze of an illusion that can never even begin to meet the love I crave and harbour in the cavernous recesses of my wild heart, in the primal tide of my desire and the transmutational rhythms of my erotic nature. I am here to breath and to sing and to birth my love and to take no prisoners and to hold my ground and to keen, keen, keen to what has been lost of Her and to rejoice in the incremental re-membering, re-embodying of Her ecstatic and formidable love, and fierce and devoted creative capacity to heal and to restore, to bless and to purify, to regenerate and to equalise, to kill off and re-birth, to awaken.

I want to belong to Her completely, but in order to do this I must peel myself away from what I have been told I am, how I have been so critically conditioned to loath myself and my own unruly embodiment, my real, bloody, messy, fleshy, ever changing, growing, evolving, ageing, weathering, destructive/creative, uncontainable beingness, my body a conduit for all life, all energy to express itself through me. I must belong unutterably to my very own becoming, regardless of what it looks like, regardless of how I am perceived.

I know the language is flawed, but I am not ready to let go of being Woman and seeking to know my Feminine Nature because we don’t actually really even know what it is that we are letting go of yet. Her suppression has been so brutally actualised in our colonised world that we don’t even really know what it is that has been so suppressed. The full expression of Her true nature has been so annihilated from the field of our consciousness that we do not know what is so achingly absent from our existence. If not the feminine, then try the dynamic, transmutational, chaotic, destructive, primal, sensuous, restorative, regenerative, emotive, erotic, body-centric field of existence? She is wanting to birth Herself again in the consciousness of humanity, but in order for Her to do this we have to begin to live outside of the restrictive boxes we have been given, and question the ways in which we curtail and suppress, punish and impair, brutalise and hinder the intuitively emergent qualities of our own evolutionary existence, and the very particular and personal ways in which we are embodied in this world.

Language fails us again and again, but what I know is that I can feel Her, pressing into my chest, hungering for me to find a way of loosening the collar, ungagging my mouth, so that She can speak again through my throat. I feel Her pulling her vibration through my legs sometimes when I dance, shuddering me viscerally, with a bone-clattering force, shaking out the fear and shame and evacuated absence of my flesh. She serenades me in the kinaesthetic tide of Her ancient unfoldment in the cells of my flesh and my blood and my bones. Maybe we as human beings are meant to be the way through which She speaks, gives voice, finds form, births love. Maybe our wombs are the anchor for Her consciousness, maybe it is through our dreams that She weaves Her web of awakening, maybe our voices are the articulation of Her imperative in the cosmic quest for peace? Who is speaking for Her? How authentically can we let Her voice be heard through our unapologetic living?

By no means do I seek to diminish feminine beauty, but rather to liberate our expression from it’s exclusive dominion in the psyches of woman and to question, who is the beauty-making for? Is it an inward impulse emerging as an expression of a love for oneself and one’s own unique plumage and creative expression? A wild and vibrant celebration of our own intimate love affair with divinity? Or is it beauty-making to please the predatory gaze of the pretty police? Least we forget we are all loved in this strange world of soulless surfaces and empty promises, I  believe that we are each made as we are, exactly as we are, because we are meant to be this way. Because there is something about our otherness that has something powerful to say to the status quo, and even when we are most alone in our personal determination and singular sovereignty, then if we listen, we can hear Her whisper most fiercely in our ear, “You are loved. You, my dear, are Love. And through your full bodied beingness I will rise into the consciousness of humanity as She of the many faces, She who embraces diversity, She who harbours all, giving thanks for difference, because that is how we know we are living inside a healthy ecosystem.”

The Primal Feminine Nature is so beautiful, but She is also fierce and unwieldy and unyielding and chaotic and untameable and yes, sometimes she’s really fucking ugly in a refreshingly life-giving way. I don’t see Her face very often in the world around me, so I’m not ready to give her away just yet. I think I am maybe only just beginning to know how She lives in me, and that is only because I have the monolithic and immeasurable privilege of living in a time and place where I will not be persecuted for my love of Her wild ways and am able to dance and sing and thrive and work and show my face and speak and learn and share and grow in my freedom of expression. I feel in my deepest of hearts that She is beseeching us now to re-member Her, to birth Her through our blood and our wild song, through our tenacious love and care, through our art and our activism, through our belonging to the earth and our bodies and our desire, and our diversity of nature and voice, and our capacity to include and to keep toxic forces at bay and to heal and restore cohesion and a fiercely attuned co-creative capacity to the collective of humanity as we exist at this time, upon this good earth.

Text © Lucy Pierce 2018

February 10, 2018

Where the Waters Meet

Sealers Cove Wilsons Promontory, January 2018

Where the Waters Meet

My heart feels like these waters 
at this point of low tide. 
The brackish culmination 
of my arduous tributaries,
of my contouring landscapes
pushing hard and fast 
into the great, salty, oceanic turquoise, 
which pushes back in turn. 
And there they mingle, 
one so reddish brown it could be blood, 
the other sharp and crystalline. 
Two forces apposing and yet ultimately 
surrendering their separateness 
to pulse and to meld 
in the force of tide and current,
mingling at last into the greater body of the two,
made as one. 
The muddle of experience merging 
with the source of creation.
A birthing place, 
where worlds colliding are reconciled, 
in the swirling pulse of transmutation.
The inner friction of disparate waters 
meeting, resisting, surrendering.
The beauty of the turgid.
The beauty of the pristine. 
The sweet waters and the salt waters.
The accumulated narrative and history of my terrain 
being received by the enveloping ocean 
of that which is greater,
to which all things 
must return.

Words and image © Lucy Pierce 2018

Barefooted Learnings

Somewhere between Refuge Cove and Little Waterloo Bay, Wilson's Promontory

My eldest daughter and I did a three day walk at Wilson’s Prom in January this year. It felt like an enormous stretch into neglected psychic terrain for me. My daughter asked for us to go hiking together and for me that was such a precious gift, a blessed opportunity to spend time with her and so I knew I had to rise to meet this challenge. And I did, I managed the preparation and the packing, overcoming my fears and procrastination and potentially sabotaging energies to arrive there, in that incredibly beautiful place, on day 2 of the walk, nearly half way through, sore but alive, tired but awake, struggling along under our conspicuous and precarious loads of gear, food and water.

 As I walked along in that exquisite environment I could feel the lessons landing within me, as I stretched into the wilderness of my own unlived capacity. On the first day as I walked, my pack heavy on my back and my feet already starting to hurt, I had mused upon the fact that I actually had to just receive the weight of my load, not resist or adjust, or wish it was less or fret about having put too much in it. I just had to say yes, this was the weight that I was carrying, opening myself to receive it, to own it, this load I had chosen before we had departed. Later that night as I lay drifting into sleep I realised that I could apply that same insight to the stories and the history that I carry with me through my life, the particular weight and shape of the narratives that shape and form the life I lead, the burdens life asks of me to carry, to receive or to resist. I was struck as I walked along, how much easier it was when I just accepted the weight and all the aches and pains it elicited, rather than fighting to change what clearly was and what needed to be.

On the  morning of the second day the issue arose with my feet. I am a little bit resistant to shoes in general in my life and I often wear big broad comfortable Birkenstocks that allow my toes to take their space and the full breadth of my foot span to spread, or thin soled moccasins that allow me to feel as close to bare footed as possible. But for this walk I had made the dubious decision of buying some brand new hiking shoes to wear, so comfortable to begin with but by day 2 my feet were sore. I was feeling them with each and every step, my squashed and blistered toes. So in my pain, I decided to walk bare-footed for a bit and was instantly amazed at how different it felt. My pace slowed, but my body felt instantly and infinitely more intelligent, as the instinct of each and every toe and bone of foot was released to experience the nuanced contour of the land under foot. 

As I walked barefoot along the winding path, a song sprang to mind that I have often sung throughout my life, “The Earth is our mother we must take care of Her,” only this time the words changed for me. Curiously the words shifted slightly underfoot and became “The Earth is my mother, She will take care of me.” This change of intention in the wording of the song triggered for me a well known inner terrain, a rising within of the narrative of shame that springs from belonging to a disconnected people who always take from the land and never give back, a people so far and distantly removed from the regenerative interface of our own indigenous ancestors, traumatised so implicitly by the brutality of all the intervening years. A small voice arose within me asking, Do I have the right to ask her to take care for me? The great Motherwound of my cultural inheritance reared it’s head. Beneath the brutal determination and belligerent self sufficiency, the anxious questions underpinned, that ask, Is it okay for me to receive from you? Am I enough? Will you love me? Am I safe to love you? Will I be met with love if I lower my guard? Will I be received with love in my vulnerability? Is it safe to let you in? Will you receive me if I show you who I truly am? Can I rest, deeply, in the holy peace of your vast love? Can I depend upon something greater than my own selfish need?

There was a deeper truth showing herself to me here, as I walked and sang and wept and listened, barefooted and heavy packed, undone by this blessed and challenging pilgrimage with my darling big girl.  It spoke to what I had felt the night before in camp, where after all the prep and the packing, the  days walking and the setting up at our planned destination, we had several hours to while away the late afternoon and evening. There was nothing to do but rest and be, but I felt a disarming restlessness, glaringly aware of my own internal resistance to resting, to receiving, to simply being, to bask in the simplicity of being in this divine place of natural wonder and beauty, with my gorgeous daughter. There were no small children to care for, no domestic tasks waiting for me, no work commitments to attend to, no elaborate meal to prep, just this invitation to be still and receive. I had a book, and a basket to weave. But instead I just sat and wandered and sat, gently leaning into this internal resistance to being satisfied, being still, being fed and nourished by the beauty and power of the place that held me. All evening I sat with it inside, this coming into the body, retreating from the anxious mind. Patiently waiting to arrive, in my pelvis, in my skin, in the now.

And then here the next day, as  I walked my battered bare-feet through the forest, across sand and through salty ocean, through streams and over rocks, I wondered  if perhaps the way my people take from this land arises from a deep sense of lack, of scarcity and pain. Perhaps for my kind there is indeed a necessary imperative to let go and to learn how to deeply listen, to learn the capacity to truly receive from the earth, to come to know ourselves as the utterly helpless dependant creatures that we are upon the back and belly of our mother. What if we did truly learn that the Earth is our Mother, and that She will take care of us? Even though we already take so brutally from the resources of the Earth, desecrating her body, raping her essence, perhaps we do this because we no longer know how to take of her love, to receive from her nourishment. We have forgotten how to receive the magnificent nurturance that flows from Her and surrounds us in every living moment, Her clean air, Her sacred waters, Her life-giving forests, Her precious minerals and plants, Her energetic sustenance, Her vital restoration.

Perhaps we need to dismantle the outcome-oriented, grasping hunger, the insatiable need, and learn to richly suckle, luxuriously rest in our utter dependancy upon Her, to accept the reality that before we can care for our “Mother” we have to learn first how to receive of Her succour, know our inseparable embeddedness in the matrix of Her, understand the potent treasure of Her nourishing and regenerative capacity, become whole and bonded and grown up and initiated human beings. So that when we take from Her it is with utter indebtedness and humble gratitude. So that our needs are minimised by the fullness of what is received just in the pure delight of Her earthly body’s succulent nourishment.

I put my shoes on again, and took them off again. On and off, over the ensuing and final days of the walk, but I was left with a deeper understanding of the stark difference between the two states, the shod and the unshod. I felt a new understanding of  the absurdity of our perpetual insulation, through our houses and our footwear, our cars and our concrete, from the vast conduit of electro-magnetic intelligence that exists available to ourselves in every life-giving moment, through the soles of our precious feet, from the great body of Earth that is our source of life and nourishment. I made a commitment to myself to take every opportunity I can find in my life to sit upon the body of the Earth and drink in that life-giving vibration.

As this year had begun I had been struggling to find a New Year's resolution that felt true to me. The closest I had come was to commit to deepening into my capacity to be infinitely gentle with myself. Here on this walk, through that pristine and exquisitely wild place, I found another quality that I felt willing and able to call in for the year to come. This sense of endeavouring to receive more surrenderedly from the Earth, to render myself ever more helpless and vulnerable at the mouth of her undying succour, that I may rise ever stronger in my capacity to give back in return, with strength and power and a supple receptive sole, listening sweetly upon Her gentle ground.

Words and image © Lucy Pierce 2018