A Voice of Initiation, Reconciliation, & Gender Intelligence

International Day To End Violence Against Women

Read a Friend’s Heart
End Violence Against Women
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November 24th, 2014

who violence against women

Dear Fellow Workers in the Vineyard,

Tomorrow, November 25th, marks the 18th anniversary of International Day To End Violence Against Women.

To commemorate this day, wear orange and check out the United Nations project to support country-level programs to end violence against women and girls.

To learn about the impressive results of past grantees, see the UN Trust Fund’s recently published report, UN Trust Fund To End Violence Against Women—Mapping of the Grantees’ Outcomes (2006 to mid-2011).

The anniversary marks the assassination in 1960 of three Mirabai sisters who were political activists in the Dominican Republic and launches 16 Days of Action against Gender Violence (ending on December 10th, Human Rights Day—and the birthday of Emily Dickinson). According to the United Nations, this year’s theme is Orange the World in 16 Days.

You’re encouraged to participate by submitting a photo with a message: “I wear orange because…” For further information, visit http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/end-violence-against-women#sthash.crS5yGKH.dpuf

In your home, in your relationships, at work, with your pocketbooks, in your community, in your meditation and writing, actively do what you can to contribute to ending violence against women and girls, and to help men and boys break the chains of an exhausted patriarchal system that impedes evolution to a new paradigm co-creation of gender-enlightened harmony and productivity.

Here is a poem:

The Promise of Hunter’s Moon

At some point we’re all coming back as birds.
We’ll begin in the muck, unrecognizable, stinking,
Until creatures with hands or tools for hands
Scoop us up and start squeezing and pulling.
Suddenly there we are, unmistakably beaked,
Straining against thin leather thongs that someone
Had the good sense to tie around rocks and our twiggy legs.
It’s a good thing, this confinement, because free
We’d rip and tear apart anything we could reach.
The things with hands, or tools like hands, feed us
A mixture of water and the blood of the beheaded,
And with this inside of us we develop fast,
Looking more like giant birds you’d recognize
By the minute. Our feathers grow black and glossy,
And the thicker they become the meaner we feel.
When they just can’t grow anymore they fall out.
Our featherless bodies are disgusting to touch,
Hideous to behold. Where once we were murderous,
We grow timid under the mirror-hot sun. Then
More feathers appear, small, white feathers,
Beautiful, snowy plumes that dazzle in moonlight.
When we’re ready she comes. Out of the sea and sky,
Out of the barren ground she comes. Astonishing
Is her loveliness, perfected is her power.
She rises and walks among us as we bow,
Obedient, peaceful, and so in love.

*

Consider these books for your library, reading pleasure and gifts. Share them with friends, colleagues and loved ones!

Poetry as Spiritual Practice: Reading, Writing, and Using Poetry in Your Daily Rituals, Aspirations, and Intentions and The More We Get Together: The Sexual and Spiritual Language of Love and other collections are available at my website www.robertmcdowell.net, and at www.IndieBound.org, www.amazon.com, and www.b&n.com or by request at your local bookstore.

Newsletter #143: Core Stories Program

ROBERT MCDOWELL’S NEWSLETTER #143
Core Stories Program
November 2014

(Photo credit Lysa McDowell)

(Photo credit Lysa McDowell

New Moon Greetings and Blessings,

If you want to do more, if you want more, you must begin at your core.

Your core stories, like mine, like everyone else’s, are the key building blocks of your life. Your unique journey develops and takes place as you navigate from core story to core story, gradually integrating their wisdom and lessons in a work of art you may accurately call Your Life.

The Core Stories Program guides you through your ten essential core stories. You’ll unlock them, unblock them, engage them and learn to work with them in your daily life.

Join me! Tap into your core stories. Celebrate and explore what makes you unique. Come with me on a journey of narrative healing through meditation, journaling, poetry and lively one-on-one conversations.

This journey heals old wounds, clear obstacles that hold you back and usher you into your creative, unique power.

For ten consecutive weeks, I’ll work with you to open up the core stories of your life. Each segment will heal, empower and enrich you in your spiritual quest, your job performance and your relationships.

Would you like to come along on this journey? Then email me at rmcdowell@mind.net, or poetrymentor@mac.com to sign up. The one-time cost for this Core Stories Program is $249.00.

As a bonus, I’ll send each participant, each co-creator, a PDF of five Poetry Talks, personal essays on the wisdom of poems through the ages.

Here is a sample of our first core story, The Core Story of Inception.

The Core Story of Inception

Getting Started: Simple Pleasures

Inception is the first core story for all of us. Inception means an act or process of beginning.

Calm your mind and feel as if you could commune with trees. See how it feels to be the tree you once were before waking in this fascinating, mobile meat craft that is your body, your glorious star vessel, your earthly home. Were you an oak tree? A willow? A redwood, or some other tree?

With your tree consciousness wide-awake, consider how being alive is to be aware. Listening and attentive, delight in this moment and this moment’s simple pleasures. Breathing deeply, relishing the peace and relaxation that envelopes you, listen to this poem about learning to treasure simple pleasures:

Four Hundred Apples
The peeler slices through human skin
As easily as fruit skin.
A west-facing kitchen
In late afternoon sweats you,
And no matter what system you divine
The apples spin out of their jackets
In their own good time. But you
Would like to find more in the labor
Than the eventual sweetness of pies—
How, for example, to quiet compulsion,
Your need to be burning, even in water.
Mind the peeler, then the knife in your hand.
There are the apples, stripped and diced
In a syrup of brown sugar and Mexican vanilla.
The first part of the lesson is easy,
But part two always gives you trouble—
Eating the pies, and
While doing that, enjoying them.

Most of us love pies. If some do not relish making them, most all of us love eating them. Four Hundred Apples may help you to focus on a simple pleasure you often overlook, and in doing so it may remind you of all of the simple pleasures you take for granted. For instance, the way sunlight creates a prism in the garden spider’s web, the smell of laundry fresh from the line, the thoughtful look on a beloved’s face as she reflects on a passage she just read.

Please join me for this new program of enrichment and discovery. As we co-create the new paradigm, we heal the ills of our world.

If you know someone who is hurting, who might benefit from this program, consider giving it as a gift.

With blessings always,

Robert
rmcdowell@mind.net
poetrymentor@mac.com
www.robertmcdowell.net
Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/McDowellRobert

Read A Friend’s Heart: Blog Post

Read a Friend’s Heart
Follow me on Twitter
www.twitter.com/McDowellRobert
November 17th, 2014
Leonard and Virginia Woolf
What are men to do?

In 1920, Virginia Woolf published a brilliant story, A Society, which concludes that war and brutality are distinctly male in origin, and that the world will never know peace until men have babies and so acquire through experience reverence for all life.

My puny masculinity and gender-enlightened, awakening self agree, yet Woolf’s declaration and my agreement beg the question: what are men to do?

There is no solution in having babies. I’ve had three, or rather, I was a spectator/participant at the birth of three, and though I saved my wife’s life during the third delivery, I’ve never had any doubt that she always performed the heroic, transformative journey, not I.

Having babies, even once removed, has made me more dovish than hawkish; I do revere life more than I did before. Yet, I’m keenly and poignantly aware that I lack what Woolf required of me—a visceral, experiential connection, through giving birth, to life itself.

There is in all men a precious fragility that perversely seeks to crush what is fragile in others. Call it a motor impulse that makes an aggressive male driver suddenly yank the wheel of his Cadillac to the left so that he can squash a pelican that has wandered onto the blacktop of Highway 1 near Monterey. It’s the impulse that coaches and teachers use to shame young men for their perceived weaknesses. It’s the madness that drives the rapist and passive-aggressive abuser of children, women and men. Call it the make-war impulse. Men possess it, or are, perhaps more accurately, possessed by it, than women.

So, I ask you: what are men, and women, to do about this? I welcome your thoughts, your wisdom, your anger, your insight.

Book recommendation:
Washing the Bones: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Transformation by Katherine Ingram http://www.amazon.com/Washing-Bones-Memoir-Love-Transformation
*
Consider these books for your library, reading pleasure and gifts. Share them with friends, colleagues and loved ones!

Poetry as Spiritual Practice: Reading, Writing, and Using Poetry in Your Daily Rituals, Aspirations, and Intentions and The More We Get Together: The Sexual and Spiritual Language of Love and other collections are available at my website www.robertmcdowell.net, and at www.IndieBound.org, www.amazon.com, and www.b&n.com or by request at your local bookstore.

Flower Essences & the Two Worlds

collage-fe

I have been thinking a lot lately about flower essences. I like to sit on my deck late at night and write, or talk to my long-distance Beloved on the phone.

Last night, near midnight as we were talking, something entered my peripheral vision. I turned my head, and there on the rim of a large planter, three feet away, perched a lovely gray, brown, white and yellow finch. The bird just stood there looking at me; I returned the gaze. Calmly, without fear, the bird hopped onto a small fountain next to the planter and sipped water. We sat together for twenty minutes, then the bird vanished into the comforting darkness.

I shared this visitation with my Darling Dear, who said she got chills hearing it. She told me about a movie she’d watched the night before that followed a couple’s random, fated meetings. Throughout, there were scenes of a finch flying in and out of windows and doors, visiting, visiting.

The movie bird, real bird and my phone companion refocused my thoughts on the wisdom of the natural world and shadow world. A flower essence is a balm of both worlds. It’s a healer, a mutable energy that restores one’s equanimity and power. A flower essence is an awareness elixir; it’s a kindness and a present to each of us from the world next to this one.

Here is a link to the finest, most elegant and beneficial flower essences site I know: Power of Flower Essences.

Avail yourself of the abundant opportunities to be found there, and if so moved, gift a friend, colleague or loved one with its bounty.

Be a co-creator. Work and rest and work some more. Discover joy in your life.

Unwavering Strength

September 2014 | Read a Friend’s Heart

Chrysalis Butterfly

Today launches of Unwavering Strength: Stories To Inspire You through Challenging Times. See below to receive free bonuses and join the fun!

Discover the inner strength and courage to overcome grief, loss, phobias, and trauma

Unwavering Strength: Stories To Inspire You through Challenging Times is the first in a series of highly inspiring books by Judy O’Beirn and friends. It is a moving collection of inspirational stories from 32 gifted authors that include, Daniel Parmeggiani, Jeanne Henning, Dr. Terry A Gordon, and yes, yours truly. The book begins with a moving foreword by New York Times bestseller author Peggy McColl that beautifully establishes the tone for the stories that follow. Unwavering Strength shares real-life experiences that will help you find strength and comfort in the journeys others have taken through grief, loss, trauma and heartache. As you read this book, you’ll realize we are defined by our ability to rise up from our lowest points and reach into our hidden potential for incredible growth, love and compassion. A percentage of the proceeds from Unwavering Strength book sales are being donated to cancer recovery programs. Click here for more information about the book, bonus gifts and ordering!

Participate

Please visit my website and look around the new site, which I envision as a hub for our global, gender-enlightened community.

I ask your help to spread the word. Please share with your friends and contacts. If you enjoy the videos, please Like them at Youtube. I’m grateful! I look forward to serving and collaborating with you.

—Robert

Read & Share

Please consider reading these books. If you like them, perhaps you can share with friends and loved ones. They make appropriate gifts.

Poetry as Spiritual PracticeThe More We Get Together: The Sexual and Spiritual Language of Love, and other collections are available at my websiteIndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and by request at your local bookstore.

Newsletter #139

September 2014 | Read a Friend’s Heart

Hopeless and Homeless

As I write this, four South African women will be killed by their partners. Along the interstate in Anywhere, USA, cars will pull over and release bewildered dogs in fields, then drive off. Untold incidents of elder abuse will occur. In Turkey’s refugee camps, thousands will struggle through the day, wondering if and when they’ll ever see home … or find new ones. In America’s disposable culture, women and men will exit the relationships they’re in, believing the grass is always greener somewhere else.

What can one do in a world like this?

Abide. Persevere. Meditate. Go on.

“What is there to do?” asks the spiritual supplicant. Perhaps embrace Lord Buddha’s teaching that every moment of our lives we are loved and accepted by beings seen and unseen.

Trust your purpose, that you are here for a reason, that it includes making your mark with integrity and compassion. Do your inner and outer work, then rest in stillness.

When doubt wells up in your chattering mind, lean into a tree and listen. Speak your truth to it, your dreams, your aspirations. The tree will listen and speak to you. Resume. Bring love and gratitude to everything you do, especially to those areas of your life that require forgiveness. Enter surefooted the dream of your sacred life and live.

Where is my daughter? Where is my love?

Can I ever again enter the ruin of my house?

What do the trees know? More than you.

Lean into and be lost in the psithurism

Of their language of branches, wind and leaves.

Go back to your labors. Your answers are in you.

Answer the predator with love.

Examine your heart with precision

And make right that which you’ve done wrong.

Step up. Encounter the world. Love.

Book Recommendation

Washing the Bones Book CoverWashing the Bones: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Transformation, by Katherine Ingram

Participate

Please visit my website and look around the new site, which I envision as a hub for our global, gender-enlightened community.

I ask your help to spread the word. Please share with your friends and contacts. If you enjoy the videos, please Like them at Youtube. I’m grateful! I look forward to serving and collaborating with you.

—Robert

Read & Share

Please consider reading these books. If you like them, perhaps you can share with friends and loved ones. They make appropriate gifts.

Poetry as Spiritual PracticeThe More We Get Together: The Sexual and Spiritual Language of Love, and other collections are available at my websiteIndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and by request at your local bookstore.

Newsletter #138

August 2014 | Read a Friend’s Heart

Newsletter 137: Goddess from Catalhoyuk in Turkey

Above is a photograph of the Goddess from Catalhoyuk in Turkey. She dates approximately to the seventh century B.C., and she looks nothing like our contemporary vision of goddesses. Yet her image was remade and copied by the thousands in the Neolithic Age.

This Goddess is big, but she seems somehow weight-appropriate. As I contemplated her full figure, or that, say, of the Venus of Malta statue, something subtle changed in my anima projections. I wasn’t even aware of it at first, but over time I found myself appreciating the beauty of stout goddesses where before I’d experienced nothing but shades of loathing. Surprised, I realized I even connected with the erotic qualities of these goddesses and the real women on which they were likely modeled.

During my recent travels and while walking around Ashland, Oregon, I’ve found myself really seeing plus-size women as if for the first time. They resemble the Goddess below, and their beauty is undeniable. Is it strange to imagine the men of Catalhoyuk worshipping this image, this fertility Goddess of birth and death? Did they see the beauty and qualities of women despite physical appearances?

If they did, then those Neolithic ancestors of ours were more gender-enlightened than we are in the West. We’re bombarded by media images of feminine beauty, and so many animas are regressive as a result. Who wants the model, the one with the perfect breasts? I do, the anima cries. I do. I deserve it!

Is it mysterious to see this for what it is? We have much work to do in gender relationships, and much work to do in anima maturity. Can men convene with women to discuss this issue of image? Can it be done with love and empathy rather than anger and resentment? It takes courage, lots of it, from women and men, and I believe it can be done.

Let’s begin. The elders among us need to stand up and guide initiation rites for boys—and yes, for men who never had them. Only then will the anima have a chance to hold richly diverse images of women as they truly are. Yes, let’s.

Please explore my new website, which I envision as a hub for our global, gender-enlightened community.

I ask your help to spread the word. Please share with your friends and contacts. If you enjoy the videos, please Like them at Youtube. I’m grateful! I look forward to serving you more effectively from here on.

—Robert

Read & Share

Please consider reading the books below. If you like them, perhaps you can share them with friends and loved ones.

Poetry as Spiritual Practice and The More We Get Together: The Sexual and Spiritual Language of Love and other collections are available at my website, and at IndieBound, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, or by request at your local bookstore.

250 Words about Poetry As Spiritual Practice

Robert McDowell Speaking

Overview

Poetry As Spiritual Practice Book CoverPoetry and spirituality, two of the Top Ten most googled words, create when combined the most potent spiritual practice you will ever perform. All of us—Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Animist, Atheist—seek a meaning beyond ourselves and a path that leads to peace and greater comprehension of the uncertain world we live in. By reading and writing poems and making them an essential part of daily rituals of aspirations and intentions, Poetry as Spiritual Practice guides readers on their quest to find peace, meaning and success in their lives. Though abundant materials exist on poetry and spirituality, very little actually exists that remembers how poetry is the language of devotion, the richest expression of spiritual practice. Poetry is the reverberating note, the pure sound and shape of spirit as it makes sense to us at last. Poetry in spiritual practice creates clarity; it deepens and expands one’s ongoing inquiry into the most profound mysteries.  benefits all seekers, generating greater wisdom, compassion, self-confidence, patience and love.

The Book

Poetry as Spiritual Practice includes an Introduction and four opening chapters on mentor/apprentice relationships, poetry as contemplation and communication, misconceptions about poetry, and the difference between poetry and prose. The book’s middle chapters, 5-8, introduce poetry’s building blocks (words, figurative language, rhyme and meter, stanzas). In chapters 9-17, nine traditional poetry forms are introduced and examined. The forms include haiku, sonnet, villanelle, sestina, elegy, limerick & epigram, ghazal, pantoum, and the prose poem. Chapters 18 and 19 are devoted to free verse and narrative in poetry. Each chapter includes engaging, enjoyable examples of poems and writing exercises that will help the reader create her own poems in each form. Throughout the text, readers will be guided and encouraged to include poems in their on spiritual practice. Poetry as Spiritual Practice concludes with a brief section, In Closing, an Index listing guided exercises by chapter, and a list of poems used as illustrations.

At Your Door: The Divine Feminine

Dr. Rama Mani, Voice of Witness

Only the Divine Feminine—in women, in men—can restore to health our wounded planet. Yet this goal cannot reach its full blossoming as long as women and men follow separate paths or work at cross-purposes to one another.

At the center of this global crisis lies an immense opportunity to birth a new paradigm distinguished by evolved, gender-enlightened relationships between men and women. This work, already begun, must ramp up.

How? What must be done? It begins with women and men embracing and transforming their shadows.

Men of the new paradigm must support and celebrate women. They’ll do so by unlearning conscious and unconscious patterns of behavior—cultural and familial hooks set in early childhood—that are intolerable and inappropriate. Gender-enlightened, they’ll do so by partnering with women in more balanced, creative ways. They’ll do so by recognizing and accepting the truth that this process of waking up and growing up will be often guided by women.

Join our growing community as we venture together into the new paradigm.