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Meeting the Ancient Stone Beings

I have been back just over two weeks from Australia.  I have been noticing the brew my psyche is preparing of my experiences.  I worked with 60 pilgrims in the land of the soul over the course of 5 different workshops and and then I met Uluru and Kata Tjuta, the great stone beings of central Australia.  I  feel something new in me and I would have to say that there is another note in the chord of my life–subtle, grounded, quietly joyful.

My friend  Marg and I made the pilgrimage to the “Red .Centre” after the Melbourne Womens’ Dream Quest.  We flew to the dusty town of Alice Springs and drove west out through the desert for 5 hours toward a simple resort 15 kilometers from the monuments.  Vast desert landscape met us and few other vehicles.  We saw just prickly desert plants, sun and blue sky. As we came nearer to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National park, the landscape changed.  There were more desert trees standing solitary witness and the atmosphere slowly became numinous.

We arrived just in time for sunset and joined the throng of  people from all over the world at a specially dedicated spot for viewing.  Mercifully the tour busses had their own vantage point.  It was a festive atmosphere.  I could hear Italian and German spoken in hushed tones .  What surprised me was how related I felt to the great sandstone being in front of me.  I felt joyful and friendly.  I quickly drew a small 7 circuit labyrinth in the red dirt in front of me  

It seemed a fitting symbol of the journey I had made to come to this Center and an homage to the wandering Aboriginal people who used to roam this land also coming to this Center.

Soon enough the light began to leave the sky and Uluru changed from a rather bright rusty red to deeper crimson.

All visitors had to leave the park by 7:30 and so we humans made their way back to our accommodation in the resort.


Before dawn the next morning, we drove out to greet Kata Tjuta, Uluru’s companion .Again an international crew joined us, clicking and exclaiming.  As soon as the sun rose over Uluru and

painted Kata Tjuta with the subtle tones of sunrise, the other tourists left and we were free to commune and be in silence.

We next made our way toward Kata Tjuta and a hike into Walpa Gorge.  We walked up the gully, wild wind blowing through the only aperture in the wide open desert.  We encountered a lush river of green trees and shrubs nourished by an underground spring and protected from the harsh desert on all sides.  The Anagu people, the traditional owners of this country came to this spot as a pilgrimage.  Kata Tjuta is sacred to the Anagu men.

It became clear to me  that the shapes of the landscape and the fecundity of the gorge would remind any human of the sacred gifts of women. Perhaps Anagu men came here to learn.

Next we circumambulated Uluru.  I had brought a stone from Deer Heart labyrinth to leave as an offering.  I found the place that called and sat for a while connecting the two places and the network of labyrinths all over the world.

Everything about these places felt simple and primal.  I could imagine our long time ancestors listening to the landscape, going about their lives in a harmony that we cannot imagine in the modern world.  The harshness of the climate out here, the necessity of learning where and how to survive, the imaginal richness of the night sky and the parade of colors greeting the dawn and dusk all taught them how to be in right relation to Land and each other.

When we left the next day, I grieved.  I was touched to the core.  As we drove the 5 hours back to Alice Springs, there was a particular spot on the road where I felt the boundary of the pull of Uluru and Kata Tjuta.  It is for good reason that this place is considered one of the chakra points of our planet.  I felt gratitude for the attunement.

Coming back to my work and meeting with the next circle in Alice Springs, I experienced an increase in my ability to hold Earth  and more credibility to encourage others to feel our special human job of bridging Heaven and Earth while standing in love and awareness in the Circle.

Iona May 2017

Yesterday as I awaited a flight to Bristol from Glasgow, I spoke with a lovely woman from the Isle of Lewis about the state of the world. We were of the same opinion about materialism, the Brexit/Trump idiocy, the decline of the progressive worldview we had both thought sacrosanct, She asked me where I had been and when I said, Iona, her face softened and and she sighed. There are no words, she said. And I of course agreed. We also agreed that something of what the world needs is the experience every pilgrim to the holy Isle reports.

So I have a few words for this wordless experience. Getting there like a good labyrinth walk, was a shedding. Somewhere on the train or the ferry or the coach, I began to let go of being an American citizen. I let go a layer of being a recognized teacher, I let go caring about the weather, my myriad relationships, in short, many identities sloughed off. When I arrived, it was blessedly still and warm day. The light on the water, the blues of the sky and sea, the spring green emerging everywhere– all was a feast of the senses. Even the squawking rooks added to the bird song. Ah, I thought and felt, knew, this is Presence.

I tried to make sense of it… is it the ratio sheep to humans? the years of pilgrimage since St.Columba arrived in the 6th century? The presence of humans engaged only in art, gardening, prayer,service, sheep rearing and not the usual activities?

Unlike many sacred sites with strong stories, Iona’s struck me as beside the point of how it is there–how you breathe there, how near to your own light essence you become.

My most precious moments were walking the landscape, seeing the changing colors, smelling the big horned, caramel colored hairy cattle, feeling the rocky shore , contemplating the poignancy of lambs so alive . I prayed and meditated and played my flute, but beside those spiritual activities, or even in spite of them, I found a ground of being I met with great gratitude.

So the return, like the walk out of the labyrinth, necessitates some conscious resumption of the layers of the world. I am about to teach two workshops, I am mother, friend, therapist, wise woman activist in this world, I take those identities back, but deep inside, I know the stream of light I hold in my being has been strengthened and witnessed by this holy Isle,

Dreaming Creation- a Sermon for the Charlottesville UU Church


I will not dishonor

my soul with hatred,

but offer myself humbly

as a guardian of nature,

as a healer of misery,

as a messenger of wonder,

as an architect of peace.

I will honor all life

—wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell—on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.”

Diane Ackerman

I start with this benediction because it gets at our relationship with creation- that moving, roiling, impulse of LIFE, that most precious energy of all– Creation in our bodies, in the vast myriad of bits of animal, mineral, human and divine manifestation. We create. Life Creates, God, Goddess, Great Spirit creates and continues to create. Without the creative force there is no life.

And our relationship with all of this, how we feel connected, belonging, praising, appreciating, witnessing, protecting is what needs to sustain us in these days. It always has, but I think that we are in a moment of waking up more…. being woke… I love that language. To be grounded in our alignment with creation as creative beings is to resist the hatred, fear and injustice in our world.

I have been leading the Women’s Dream Quest for I believe 26 of its 30 years. We have persisted. Each year a theme presents itself to my dreaming mind and 2016 it was Dreaming Creation. 2015 was Dreaming the Mystery and 2017, so the dreamers tell me is Dreaming the Spiral. In late October 2016, we were in a celebratory mood, sure that soon a grandmother would be in the White House. Contemplation of Creation seemed like just the right note to strike. We gathered on the labyrinth in beautiful, gothic Grace Cathedral, seated in a horseshoe after our introductory exercises and songs.

We enacted the evolution story, beginning in the dark. Dancers crouched in stretchy bags to symbolize the prima materia. I spoke of all the traditions, both religious and secular imagining a time without differnation… the darkness, the coalesing of stardust before the big bang, the raw mterial that God transformed into the multitude of things. I asked the women to imagine that emptiness as the space deep within our wombs.

I began the narration: And then there is divine spark, the magic, the bang and the dance begins. Just like conception in our women’s bodies.

The dancers began to writhe and stretch – differentiation occurring in movement. They find their way out of the stretchy bags and become sea creatures and earth creatures . We showed the slide show you will see in a few moments and sang the song, Ocean Breath breathing me, Ocean Breath breathing me, Ocean breath, breathing, Ocean Breath breathing me.

Then I said: At some point, very recently in the great history of Life on our planet, we humans walked onto the fertile green earth. A young girl came into our midst , skipping.

I continued: From the cycles of life, once held in darkness, intuition, inspiration, humility enter the dance along with arrogance, domination and greed. The human creative impulses—both dark and light are loosed upon the world. We are the witness to all of this. The remarkable creativity evident in every form of life, the remarkable possibilities unleashed by creativity.

We ended the dance with a dove kite flying down the central aisle of the cathedral, all the animals coming to nuzzle the child, a hopeful tableau of the peaceable kingdom.

I suggested that like the Aboriginal peoples of Australia, we humans are responsible for dreaming all of this into being. It is our ability to see and hold the whole that marks our humanness.  We need to remember how to dream creation.

And there it was, a hopeful evolution, peace abiding, the light ascending.

And then came the next week and what for many of us was a shocking, disturbing, traumatizing election. I thought about what we had brought forth in the Dream Quest. It seemed in stark contrast to the Dark of November. Like many of us, I felt a period of unbelieving despair. Each of my 20 psychotherapy clients cried in session– reported such a visceral and somatic response.

It took a while for me to come back to the tableau of creation. Outrage was necessary and very dark humor. I began looking for light and in the darkening days before winter solstice, another workshop I led held a key. We were contemplating the dark– inner, outer, existential. To symbolize our process each of the participants were instructed to find their own Luminata out in the field near the room we were meeting in. We were to symbolize the relationship between the dark and the light. These paper bag lanterns carried an LED light that glowed, barely perceptible. I imagined that glowing light right in my solar plexus where I had felt the blow of despair and disappointment. That carried me through. Just a little light. Like all creation, I began to realize there needs to be a gestating, quiet, dark time. I think I was accompanied by many on this particular journey.

So now the external light has glimmered back at Imbolc/ Candlemas the time of year that all of us in the Northern hemisphere notice as the moment of returning light We know the days are lengthening somewhere deep in our indigenous beings and we know to let our thoughts and actions quicken a bit in anticipation of the coming spring. This moment 3 and ½ weeks past that mark, we are on the way to the greening time. If we touch into our souls, we know it.

And then, we might notice that Light has returned to the world stage. Millions of us marched, lawyers did their jobs, Journalists, proud and smart tell us what is happening. I don’t mean to downplay the frightening demise of our institutions and the scuttling of decades of progress. This is still going on, but I believe it is our job as dreamers of creation to notice the emergent light.

How do we go on, resist if we are called, stay sane and balanced? I do think that this theme that we have just practiced over Friday night is helpful. We are people who love creation. We create. We see to our health both emotional and physical so that we can create. We join with our kin. We cry when we must. We sing and pray and tune in deeply to our soul’s bright light.

I’d like to share part of the slide show we used last night. It is created by my friend, Warren Lynne who is an incredible photographer and very generous soul. I’ll play the flute, sing a bit– and invite you to sing along if you would like as we are immersed in the beauty of creation. Please be comfortable, find your breath, allow your busy mind to quiet and simply let these images and sound wash over you.

So washed over by images of Creation, we let the ocean, the river, the mountain, the desert, the jungle breath us and in turn we, as dreamers of Creation, breathe life and light into the world. We continue on the spiral journey that takes us through the turns of life—like the labyrinth path. We, who showed up so very lately on our planet, with all our complex and important issues and stories, continue to walk the path, connected, aligned, creating.