My Grandmother appeared to me as the wise crone in Lunar Womb Blood Awakening. I didn’t know who she was, but each time I started the Solar/Lunar Womb Grid meditation I would see her open mouth and tongue. Like a tribal mother, “She openth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”(Prov. 31.26) (Barbara Walker, Crone, p.50) As I gazed into her mouth, I remembered the thirst at the sacred well. As the mouth of the goddess opened into Feminine Consciousness, the eyes in the back of my head started to awaken from an ancient slumber.
The maternal lineage of my mother, grandmother, great grandmother brought me back to the Beltany Stone Circle where my ancestors have been waiting for me, calling me to remember the power of the wise woman, the role of the grandmother on the New Earth.
“We can remember through the unbroken genetic thread that goes back to the Ancient Mothers and their Awakened Wombs.”
– Seren and Dr. Azra Bertrand, “Pilgrimage Into the Womb”
My Grandmother was leading me home to claim the ancient wild ways of my blood. I had forgotten where I came from. The secret of the Crone that I so feared becoming was waiting for me to reclaim the hidden, denied, wildness and all the lost parts of my shadow that needed to be integrated in reunion with my true feminine soul. I can see her 2 faces now: the fierce and powerful Crone and the Maiden shining with innocence completing the circle. (Leithin Cluan)
My feminine lineage began in the mountains of Donegal Ireland that honored the old Gaelic ways of nature and the natural cycles of life and death. The seasons of creation, dissolution and renewal were celebrated with rituals of music, dance and drinking. Women had magical feminine power and sensuality. My Celtic Grail Lineage goes back to the Irish “Kali” Cailleach, Creator, Destroyer and Regenerator of Life.
The spirit of Cailleach Bhearra “is ancestry, the creatrix, maybe evolution itself. She is seeship of the Otherworld. She is both young and old, a veiled blue-faced hag in black and a laughing young girl in a white dress. She is as ancient as the land. She is the forces of nature. She is the wilderness that will eat you alive. Cailleach is the Crone Goddess who governs our dreams and inner realities. She is the goddess of the sacred hill, the place where we enter into the hidden realm of the Fey. Sacred stones, the bones of the earth. She wears the veils of mystery She is a shape shifter, disappearing over the hill, leaving a hare in her path. All livestock and deer are her cattle. She is connected to the bean sidhe or banshee which means supernatural woman who are the wild women of the Fey.” (Leithin Cluan and O Crulaoich, Continuity and Adaption of Legends of Cailleach Bherra)
My grandmothers came from a tribe of gypsies, tinkers, witches who traveled in caravans through the mountains making moonshine, reading tea leaves, telling fortunes, talking about the banshees and consulting with the fairy folk. They were thieves who would “steal the eye out of your head and tell you you’d look better without it.” They were medicine women, seers of the invisible mist, guardians of the deep well. They guided souls between the veils of birth and death. They had profound relationship to the spirits of the Dead. They were wise women, herbal healers who were looked to for spiritual guidance of the wise blood before the days of patriarchy.
My Great, Great Grandmother was born during the famine, my Great grandmother was born post famine. Their skeletal bodies, starving and suffering in hunger. They were women who worked the land and bled in the fields. They pulled water from the well. They were poor peasant farmers living in one room thatched mud houses, gathered around the hearth with the cauldron over the fire. When the famine came, the land went barren. It felt like Mother had turned her back, pulled her love away, leaving no food, nothing in the pot, no nourishment to be found.
My Great Grandmothers stirred the cauldron of womb blood and water of life into spirits. They made Potato moonshine, Poitin known as “little pot” “ water of life” in the hills of Donegal originally used in medicines and tinctures. This magical brew of potato elixir, rooted deep in the earth could relieve pain and restore new life. They knew the secret of the wise blood, adding healing herbs to the the base of poitin, remedies used for rebirth and immortality. They were Womb Priestesses, Spirit Keepers “They could see the future, heal many physical/emotional illnesses with their distilled womb essence and wisdom.” (p29 Grimoire, Spirit Keepers of the Womb, Dr. Azra and Seren Bertrand) They were Women of the Fey who brought forth powerful medicine, potions of wise blood. They had great power to heal until the men stole their pots disrespecting their feminine essence, wisdom and life-force.
There is an ancient Irish story about a King and his young warrior sons in search of water offered by young maidens at the well. But along the way, they encountered a black veiled hag, guarding the well. Old women Crones were feared to have spiritual power that could inflict magical wounds against aggressive male warriors. She would not give the young warrior water because he refused to kiss her. Another son tried, but still, no water. Finally the youngest son returned with an abundant supply of water. Not only had he kissed the hag, but he had lay with her and she turned into the most beautiful woman in the world. “Who are you?” he asked:
“I am sovereignty, Goddess of the land and because you honor me, you will be King, your seed shall be over every clan. And so it came to pass. Those who face their greatest fear, sovereignty over life and death.” The source of everlasting youth and abundance from the sacred well.
– The Sacred Whore, Shelia Goddess of the Celts, Maureen Concannon, p. 1
The Hag becomes the maiden who offers water from the well to weary men. It is said that women initiate men at this threshold, The Crone represents the 3rd Grail Gate, the cervix, gateway between the world. When crossing this threshold, you are surrendering to the Great Womb to be reborn and nourished in the womb of love. The Great Womb initiates both men and women, humbled by the power of love as they merge with each other and the web of life. (Dr.Azra and Seren Bertrand, Womb Awakening, Spiral 2, p.19)
Unfortunately, Kings and their warriors stopped asking for permission at the well, instead they became aggressive and dominated women to get water. Disconnected from the feminine life-giving waters of Source, the warriors conquered the land. Eventually the wells dried up without the women tending to them because they lost trust in the masculine.
A week before I started lunar womb blood awakening I had this meditation:
I was lying in savasana during yoga class and an eye spontaneously opened on my lower abdomen and then turned sideways into the Eye of Horus. There was a sense of Cleopatra, the reincarnation of Egyptian Goddess Isis. She was so close I could smell her perfumed oils of rose and myrryh surrounding me in this gauze-like cocoon. While focused on my womb space suddenly the doors of an antique curio cabinet swung open and inside were rows and rows of glittering jewels, the radiance of the jewels were so bright, they were almost blinding. I had to gently close the doors slightly to take in the brilliance of the radiant jewels inside. At the same time I felt the cool presence of the Egyptian kings and queens buried in the tombs anointed with the sacred oils. Coming out of this meditation, I felt like an ancient goddess resurrected, her essence dissolving into pure radiance of being.
Later in the day I found a quote:
“O King, I have come to bring you the Eye of Horus which is in its container and its perfume is on you, the perfume of the Eye of Horus is on you O King and you will have a soul by means of it.”
– The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Text
The Eye of Horus often refers to the cervix as the gateway between the world and the portal into the cosmic womb where we dissolve into the Great Womb. “This is where we hold our deepest fears and wounds of separation. Grief lies so deep in our feminine psyche, we can hardly touch it.” When a man is initiated at this gate, he can cross this gateway, he can travel into the Fey realms annointed as a Womb Shaman, Guardian of the Womb. Here is where the “soul-destroying feeling that we are separate from our Mother Creator, from our Twin, that we have lost connection with life, with plant and animal kingdoms, and otherworldly psychic realms. It is profound fear we are all alone and unsupported floating in an abyss of oblivion that will swallow us.”( Azra and Seren Womb Awakening, Spiral 2, p. 20)
Christianity imposed their morals of fear and patriarchal belief systems of power and control upon the people who lived close to the land in the old ways. Women were oppressed, regarded as property and used to produce children. Irish women were expected to be morally pure, a woman’s place was in the family as wife, child bearer, mother. When the famine came patriarchal rule forced men, women and children into workhouses because they lost their farms, housed like prisoners impacted by starvation, disease, and fever. They were subjected to slavery, severe physical and emotional abuse.
Innocent girls and women were enslaved when orphaned or in poverty, housed in Magdalene Laundries, locked away performing menial, domestic chores such as laundry for prisoners and priests, scrubbing floors and windows. “Fallen women” who were considered sexually promiscuous or prostitutes often as a result of incest or sexual abuse were punished for tempting men into sin and were considered to be in need of rehabilitation to return back to society. These “fallen women” were sometimes unmarried mothers with children, some victims of physical and sexual abuse by men, some suspected of being witches or just considered “too simple,”too odd,” or “too attractive,” hidden away to safeguard their moral purity and protect men from temptation. Many from my feminine lineage were sent to these institutions with deep shame and trauma which is imbedded in my feminine DNA.
My mother was born in the same house as her grandmothers. She had great shame about her bloodline, she was raised in deprivation and hunger scoraging the hills for turnips and berries with her sisters. Her father was thrown from his horse and killed when she was 12 years old. Her ancestry was riddled with starvation and suffering, “there wasn’t enough.” This is one of the core wounds in my feminine DNA, the pain my mother asked me to carry in our maternal lineage.
Her mother became an alcoholic who made poitin for the town after his death. She drank with the men much to the shame of her family. My Grandmother made poitin in the hills while the moon shone over her copper pot from the recipe passed down to her from her grandmothers cauldron. This is how she kept the farm and fed her family after my grandfather died.
Men misused the power of Poitin and consumed it to excess, they “couldn’t get enough” which became the curse of the people instead of the cure it was meant to be. Drunk on their power to dominate they started their own distilleries to intoxicate the masses, relieving them of their misery and banned women from the process. Patriarchy stole the food from the mouths of the people who lived off the land, sustained by the potato rooted in the earth. From famine and starvation of the barren land to intoxication on the very substance they hungered for, seeking nourishment and sustenance from the root of the earth. Pounds and pounds of potatoes were mashed, distilled into a poison instead of a healing potion it once was. This is where patriarchy stole the life force of the womb and destroyed their feminine spirit.
I have worked with many who have been ‘uprooted’ from their land, immigrants who became homeless, destitute in institutions. I have sat with aggressive men, taming their wild warrior spirits. And I have held women in desperation. They are all part of my ancestral lineage. This has been my service to my ancestors healing the wound of separation between the masculine and feminine in my work in alcohol and drug rehabilitation.
“Alcoholism is always very important to explore, as it is one of the main ways Spirits get an access point to someone and it subdues the life force and creates soul loss.”(Seren Bertrand) “ Womb has always been the seat of woman’s power, wisdom, radiance, passion and vitality, embodiment of life force and love.”(p.29 Grimoire, Spirit Keepers of the Womb, Dr. Azra and Seren Bertrand) There was unspeakable trauma: guilt, shame, grief and anger at the loss of the feminine that smoldered beneath the surface of this patriarchal culture that repressed the feminine.
Beltaine marked the beginning of Spring for the Celts. It symbolized fertility and rebirth. During this time, cattle and livestock were of great value. Beltane was a time of moving the cattle to higher pastures where there would be a greater abundance of food. Great bonfires were lit and herds of cattle and livestock were driven between the bonfires for purification and to bring forth prosperity against famine and disease.
The fertility goddess was Sovereignty of the land, her contours covered in a mantle of green grass. Her breast shaped hills offered comfort and nourishment dipping into the well that led to the hidden portals of the wild feminine underworld joined in union with the king in sacred marriage. Fertility Rites of sexual union during this Wedding Feast or “Feis was celebrated with a great feast of merriment and intoxication. The Beltaine was a celebration of fertility which included sacred sexual rites with the mortal king, sowing the seed. The womb of the Earth Goddess was life-giving and fertile mated with the king in renewal of life and promise of rebirth, During this great celebration, sexual acts and nudity were considered natural acts along with other displays of wild abandon, all of which was accompanied with great merriment throughout the night.(White Moon goddess Medb p. 4)
My ancestors celebrated, dancing around the fire in the Beltany Stone Circle for centuries. Beltany is a neolithic stone circle in Donegal, Ireland built around 1400-800 BC. Stone circles were the cathedral of paganism for fertility and cycles of the sun and moon. The festival of Beltaine was an ancient Gaelic celebration of sexuality, fertility and womb blood offerings. Menstruating women took part in fertility rites riding brooms like hobby horses across the fields as their sacred blood saturated the crops, land and animal feeding grounds. Dancing around the Maypole was also symbolic of the god’s sexual union with the goddess, the ritual union of the goddess of the land with the mortal king giving birth to creation. (Edain McCoy,Witta: An Irish Pagan Tradition)
This sacred marriage of the inner king and queen is united in the solar and lunar energies within our own body. “The Twin Spiral Chakra System, recorded by the Celtic tradition, remembered from those unknown ancient hands who built the mysterious megaliths, has always known BOTH aspects of being need to be fully awakened and in balance, and that this journey is Spiral like the womb vortex.” (Feminine Awakening, Dr. Azra and Seren Bertrand)
In The Beltany Ring in Donegal Ireland, the solar and lunar cycles were honored. A stone head was found in the Stone Circle around 1960 which I never knew about until a few months ago. It was probably carved in the pre-Christian Iron Age 400BC-400AD depicting a fertility god associated with the stone circle worshiped during the Beltane, most likely it was the head of Baal buried in the underworld. The Celts believed the head was the seat of the soul, the magical oracle.
Ba ‘al the masculine god was originally Ba ‘allat the feminine goddess like the Great Mother. Ba means “to come into.” Ba ‘allat means to come into the feminine, to be in the womb, inside the goddess, not separate from her. Mortal kings were often given the title Baal. The Sacred King is waiting to be made whole again, to be Holy again. He longs to return to the garden, rebirthing through the feminine to be nourished in love and reborn. (Seren Bertrand)
When I was 49 , my son made 4 clay pottery pieces. He made 2 earthen vases, unconsciously representing the womb, a terra cotta one of fertility with a snake writhing around it and a black one symbolizing the void of the Great Mother, the cosmic womb. He also made a candle luminary holding the tiny pilot light, the spark of life. And a stone head, perhaps symbolic of his birth coming from the dark space and emerging into the light.
“Every man has been birthed from a Womb that holds many negative footprints, from Mother’s who were wounded emotionally, sexually, energetically—this prevents true and loving bonding with their sons. This in turn led men to inflict their own negative footprints on the women they connect with, birth more wounded children, and the cycle keeps looping and degenerating.” (p.31, Pilgrimage Into the Womb, Dr. Azra and Seren Bertrand)
The stone head continued to talk to me for 10 more years. Now at 59, I remembered the earthen head my son made for me 10 years earlier. It looked very much like the stone head found in the Beltany Ring except the eyes were wide open, awake to the new light.
By offering the awakened masculine head, bowing in surrender to the feminine, he was honoring his ancient roots and the womb of the Great Mother. The rebirth of the masculine returning to the feminine is about opening our eyes to the Grail Light. My son represented the new masculine consciousness, the young Grail Knight on the path of love emerging on the new earth.
“This is the birth of a feminine-centered spirituality which also embraces and includes the masculine. It is ‘Womb Enlightenment.’ the feminine way, the path of Love, opening to union in every way. As our wombs wake up and remember her power and sacred purpose that directly connects us back to the Universal Womb and Source of Creation. Men are being called to experience deep healing and reconnection becoming a ‘Womb Warrior’ pledging to honor, protect and open to the feminine, in himself, in relating to the feminine and his connection to Earth. ” (p29-30, Pilgrimage Into the Womb, Dr. Azra and Seren Bertrand)
I was remembering what happened in the the circle of stones that stood silent for centuries. “The Celtic Grail Lineage is steeped in Womb Lore and is full of obscured Womb symbolism as the sexual alchemy aspect of the tradition has been lost or ignored.”(Dr. Azra and Seren Bertrand, Pilgrimage Into the Womb) This was the entrance way of the Great Womb—the source of life that births everything into existence. Honoring all entrances as sacred like Shelia-Na-Gig showing her yoni, emanating the powerful, magical, life force of the earth itself. Mother of Life and Death that reminds us ‘this is where we come from and this is where you are going to.’ (Max Dashu, Crones)
In forgetting our feminine roots that were once wild and sensual, now barren in disconnection from the Source, the earth womb of the Great Mother. Ireland had become a wasteland of repression, a patriarchal culture that worshiped a fearful male god that condemned the body, the feminine and sexuality as full of shame and sin, to be hidden away, silenced with all its dark secrets.
Crones are being called to heal the Famine of the masculine soul. Our relationships have become dry and lifeless, filled with endless routines that keep us busy and disconnected from each other. We are afraid to feel love as the Source of life. We have forgotten how to offer water from the well to weary travelers along the way. The Grail Cup of Celtic Shamanism is the cauldron that “embodies the qualities of receiving, holding and nurturing, a place of rebirth and renewal.”(Dr. Azra and Seren Bertrand, Pilgrimage Into the Womb)
In this journey through my feminine lineage, I heard my grandmother’s call to offer my healing gifts to the children of the new earth. As I connected more deeply into my own womb healing, childhood trauma and ancestral wounds were released from my womb field. When we can awaken our own Womb/Hara we can hold the Grail light within us. I awakened my ancestry in the bubbling black cauldron that connected me to the Great Womb of my ancient grandmothers. They stirred my wise blood asking me to reclaim the feminine wisdom and magic that runs in my veins.
As a Crone/Grandmother, I cannot remain hidden or silent any longer. The time has come to share these lost Womb teachings with the world. The power of my wise blood can no longer be held back, it floods out into the unified field. The radiance of grail light shines through the web of life that connects all generations on the new earth. Artist Credits (in order of appearance, images in the public domain):
John William Godward, ‘Autumn’