“If you have attempted to fit whatever mold and failed to do so, you are probably lucky. You may be an exile of some sort, but you have sheltered your soul. There is an odd phenomenon that occurs when one keeps trying to fit and fails. Even though the outcast is driven away, she is at the same time, driven right into the arms of her psychic and true kin, whether these may be a course of study, an art form, or a group of people.”-“Women Who Run With the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph. D.
An inquiry into inviting community, for me, begins with the question of exile. Who amongst us has not felt at one time or another like the oddball, the misfit, the only weird one, the alien, the nutcase, the crackpot, maverick or the strange bird? Who amongst us has not felt the sting and the pain of being the “ugly duckling”? Did you grow up as I did, feeling a deep sense that there must be something wrong with you because you were unable and incapable of experiencing life the way the Sh-eople did?
I saw things that others seemed to ignore, I noticed and felt what words could not communicate. I experienced my own deep sensitivity and “oddball” perspective as something that made me a target for being bullied, not only by my peers, but also by my family. My family, who shared some of these qualities with me, but had not been given tools to handle them. At that time, I had no tools either, and so I learned to keep my mouth shut. Yet,somehow, I did not give away my soul. Perhaps there were bits that I lost along the way. I kept parts of my soul hidden in the shadows of my psyche waiting for the day when they could safely emerge into the light. I did this by writing in journals that were secret. In these I pretended I was talking to “God” and the angels and I poured my heart out without censoring myself. I believe that this ability to express myself freely was my “lifeline” at the time.
Now, connected to my creative soul sisters by the Red Thread and with the loving support of this Wild Woman tribe that I belong to, these “parts” are finding the courage to become more visible. Here is the story that arose from deep inside my heart and soul, the story of my exiled and wounded self and how she found healing with her tribe.
“The Dove with the Broken Wing”
Once upon a time in a land between the worlds, there lived a beautiful white, shimmering dove with a gentle heart. Her purpose in existing and incarnating in this form was to be a “divine messenger” who carried the message of truth far and wide throughout the Universe. Truth was her purpose and her medicine because this was the light that needed to shine in the world so that healing could happen. She loved the feeling of freedom, of soaring high into the clouds and seeing far beyond the horizon into the infinite space of the cosmos. These moments of flying and solitude replenished her, for her mission in this world was not an easy one.
She discovered very early on that the bringer of truth was not always welcomed. There were many times when the Dove faced stones being thrown at her, or worse, the risk of capture. Then there were many who discounted her messages as “useless lies.” She was lucky enough to be able to fly free of injury and although her heart was often lonely, she considered herself to be blessed because of her freedom. The day came, though, when she was unable to escape the brutal hands of a man whose heart was withering in bitterness. She had come to give him one last chance to break free and to choose to stop the abuse that he directed at his teenage daughter. The Dove’s loneliness led her to stay a few seconds longer than usual even when she realized the situation was useless. She felt a bond with the daughter, whose name was Beata, and so she lingered. In that moment of lingering, the angry father grabbed her and handling her roughly he broke her wing. At the same time he pushed her into a cage. She fell, broken hearted and hopeless, to the floor of the cage and there she lay motionless until the night fell and Beata snuck out to take herself and the Dove to an uncertain freedom.
Beata fled to a sacred forest, that happened to be close to their home. In that forest, Beata had befriended and cared for a baby wolf that had been separated from her mother. She had come to be an honorary member of the tribe of wolves who were the ruling tribe of the forest. While Beata loved and trusted her wolf family, she was still afraid to let them see the captured dove. She feared that their instinctual nature might overcome them and they would eat her. For a time she was able to hide the Dove from them and to gather food and tend to her in secret. Eventually she realized that the Dove was not healing and she became desperate and afraid and turned to her wolf tribe for guidance and help.
When she shared her story and the Dove’s existence with her adopted tribe, the wolves called for a ceremony. On the night of the full moon, they gathered in the sacred grove in the center of the forest, where there was an opening to the sky so they could clearly see the Great Moon Mother shining in all her brilliance. They placed the Dove on a soft mound of green moss in the center of the circle. Then they began together to howl, and they howled and howled. They howled out all the pain of all the beings who had been abused and injured, killed or wounded and silenced from speaking their truth. They howled from the deep, dark place of their wildest ancient wisdom that knew when one creature or being in the Universe is hurt, all beings feel the pain.
As they howled, Beata walked from wolf to wolf, as she had been instructed, and she drew from their mouths, threads that were coming forth. These threads were gold and red, some rich and deep, others sparkling and iridescent. These were the threads of connection that the wolves held in their beings, using them only when needed, for sacred ceremonies. These threads held ancient healing medicine for they contained the wisdom of the web, the knowledge of the relationship and connection of all beings, and the healing and miracle essence of group intention. Beata took each thread and wound it gently around the broken wing of the Dove and as each thread was woven round her, a soft, luminous glow began to be emitted from her wing.
Within one full moon cycle the Dove’s broken wing had healed completely and she could fly again. She returned to her mission of being a Divine Messenger who delivered truth in the service of healing. Now, however, she traveled with the protection of a wolf or her friend, Beata. Beata always wore a red hooded robe and eventually this story was taken and altered and distorted by the powers that be, and came to be known as “Little Red Riding Hood.” The wolf did not truly eat the grandmother but was the essence of the ancient wisdom of the grandmothers and so the story came to be told that she was “consumed” by the wolf.
The Wild Woman aspect of our psyche that was represented came to be a source of fear rather than power and healing. Such is the nature of “fairytales” and that is why this is not a fairytale but a ferry-tale. A ferry-tale because ferries are the boats that carry us across the water from one body of land to another. This is the tale of the “river beneath the river,” or how I traveled across the psychic waters of my soul, to healing and transformation. How the grace of love took me from the journey of exile to my tribe and their ancient medicine and protection that restored my freedom to self-express.
From the identity of exile to the making/creation of a tribe is often the journey of half a lifetime. For me I found that my life as a loner, began to change, when I encountered my psychic soul sister, Shiloh, in the flesh. I remember the first time I met her. I walked into her Sonoma Gallery in the summer of 1999 and I had this strong sensation that I had come “home.” This was before Cosmic Cowgirls was created. Still I had the strong feeling and intuition that my oddball “artist” self had found a soul sister and that something momentous would grow from this meeting.
Our very own beloved Chief Laughing Cloud, became a mentor and a friend, a wild and wise “mother” to me, who gave me one of the greatest gifts that I have ever been given. She saw in me what I could not see in myself. She BELIEVED in me, in the artist me, that was still, at that time, in hiding. She took me into her heart, broken wing and all, and she saw my magnificence. And because she saw it, I started to see it too.
These are the foundation stones upon which the community of Cosmic Cowgirls is built. Many times I didn’t believe in myself and yet knowing that she believed in me, I was able to keep going, putting one brushstroke of paint in front of the other, and in the process, awakening to my own creative soul fire and becoming the artist that I am today. Shiloh and her first husband lived at the Palace of the Soul, my home, when she was creating The Color of Woman Journal. The seeds were planted then for the community we now are. The power of the wild and wise “mother” and her ability to see and BELIEVE down to the depths of our souls who we truly are is amplified when we create a culture based upon this seeing.
That is what we now have. We do not need to believe in ourselves in every moment, although it would be spectacular if that was so. We can lean into each other’s belief in us and we can tug upon that red thead until we are able to return home to ourselves.
The power of community is astounding. I learned from one of my other spiritual teachers about an indigenous tribe who have a community belief system that believes that as you age, you become a faster runner. Well guess what? The 50, 60 and 70 year olds in that tribe, actually run faster than the 20 and 30 year olds. The power of community and the belief system that a culture creates and embraces has the potential to create a completely new reality, a field of miracles, a doorway to infinite possibilities.
To me community is like a beautiful tapestry woven from the unique thread that each of us represents. A single golden thread stands alone and is beautiful in its own right and yet interwoven with other threads, it creates a rich, textured tapestry that brings warmth, beauty, art and healing to ourselves and the world.
In writing about the story of the Ugly Duckling, Clarissa Pinkola Estes states, “The other important aspect of the story is that when an individual’s particular kind of soulfulness, which is both an instinctual and a spiritual identity, is surrounded by psychic acknowledgment and acceptance, that person feels life and power as never before.”
Let’s return to the topic of the exile. It is the maverick, the misfit, the exile who is the aspect of your soul from which the original thought arises. Do not cast out this part of you, even as you embrace your tribe and the life of the community. They are not mutually exclusive.
“Do not cringe and make yourself small if you are called the black sheep, the maverick, the lone wolf……it has been proven over the centuries, that being different means standing at the edge, means one is practically guaranteed to make an original contribution, a useful and stunning contribution to her culture.
When seeking guidance don’t ever listen to the tiny-hearted. Be kind to them, heap them with blessing, cajole them, but do not follow their advice.
If you have ever been called defiant, incorrigible, forward, cunning, insurgent, unruly, rebellious, you’re on the right track. Wild Woman is close by.
If you have never been called these things, there is yet time. Practice your Wild Woman.” from “Women Who Run With the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Ph.D.
The exiled one has great wisdom and inspiration to add to your life. Embrace her in equal measure as you embrace your tribe of soul sisters. Without her, none of us would be here together. “Even though there are negative aspects to it, the wild psyche can endure exile. It makes us yearn that much more to free our true nature and causes us to long for a culture to match. Even this yearning, this longing makes a person go on. It makes a woman go on looking, and if she cannot find a culture that encourages her, then she usually decides to construct one for herself. And that is good, for if she builds it, others who have been looking for a long time will mysteriously arrive one day enthusiastically proclaiming that they have been looking for this all along.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. Sounds like someone we know and love, yes?
And remember even while you are practicing your Wild Woman out there in the world and embracing your “exile” self, that you can always return “home” to your tribe, where there will be at least one woman waiting and willing to howl at the moon with you.
I invite you to create your own “ferry-tale” and to explore with me this month how you have been the exile and what the tribe brings to your life. I invite you to post your “ferry-tale” in the Red Thread Cafe on Facebook or come over to my group page, The Palace of the Soul Divine School of Glitteracy and ask to be invited to the group so you can post it there.
Here are some questions to reflect upon:
When were the times in your life when you were the exile or the misfit?
Did this aspect of your soul inspire you to create something new?
What new reality do you envision creating with our tribe going forward? What would stir your heart and nurture your soul and how can you bring this to the other communities that you live, work or participate in?
To be launched in the very near future a new web-site that will give you all the juicy details. Stay tuned for www.thepalaceofthesoul.com
GLITTER W.A.S.P. is a visionary artist and teacher, and an “Art Critic” who champions women artists. She considers it her own personal mission to spread sparkle around the world by celebrating the delightful, shimmering beauty women offer to the world through their gorgeous, artistic creations.
Elizabeth Gibbons is a visionary artist and teacher, clairvoyant healer, priestess of possibility and prophetess of enchantment also known in the Cosmic Cowgirls community as the Bejeweled Baroness. As a teacher, she encourages us to explore materials that awaken our sense of wonder, joy and playfulness. By playing with the sparkle of glitter, beads and jewels, we reconnect with the language of our soul and ignite the divine spark that Elizabeth calls our SOUL-SHINE. As we raise our vibrations, the alchemy of healing, that is part of our natural capacity, is activated.
Elizabeth, a.k.a. Glitter W.A.S.P. (or the Bejewelled Baroness depending upon the day of the week or who you ask), resides in San Francisco at the Palace of the Soul with her fabulously talented children and her revolving extended family. There she runs “The Divine School of Glitteracy” where she guides women and girls on magical adventures and ceremonies that allow them to reinvent their lives to align with more creativity, joy, enchantment, expansion, beauty and love. She teaches transformational art & embellishment classes at “The Palace of the Soul Divine School of Glitteracy.” She is currently adding “Intuitive & Playful Life Guidance & Clearing Abundance Blocks” to her menu. To view a complete menu of classes offered go to www.enchantedeye.net/one-on-one-classes or contact her at 415-637-4290 as new classes are often developed and added before they show up on her web-site.
“She Who Birthed Rivers of Light” is now available in Fine Art Prints. Please contact Elizabeth at 415-637-4290 to find out sizes and prices!
To shop for Fine Art prints by Elizabeth go to http://www.enchantedeye.net/shop_giclees_on_canvas.html
To view Glitter W.A.S.P.’s Daily Glitterations from May and beyond visit Elizabeth’s YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWmqNfLiDTnPC-_UJM2oV2Q