Your One Wild and Precious Life
“Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver
Nine women came together in the Magaliesburg Mountains in Gauteng, South Africa.
We created a mineral shrine to hold the immensity of who we are, we set intentions held by the shrine for the weekend. Those intentions left on the mountain to be worked, knowing that when we express oursleves in truth and authenticity we cannot but be heard.
Exploring the Mary Oliver line and the mineral element in the Dagara tradition, we excavated the rocks, and stones of our stories held in our bones and the mountains- we dreamt, meditated, created and journeyed upon.
We witnessed each others’ courage, strength, truth, transformation and healing. And each day our vision became clearer as we understood our reason for being, our gifts and our work in our communities.
“Walking, I can almost hear the redwoods beating. And the oceans are above me here, rolling clouds, heavy and dark. It is winter and there is smoke from the fires. It is a world of elemental attention, of all things working together, listening to what speaks in the blood. Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” ― Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World
We explored the danger of a single story, first presented by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who says “Stories matter, they can malign or disposess, they can also empower and humanise they can repair a dignity or break dignity. When we reject the single story- we regain a kind of paradise”
We touched on our own paradise, gained through deep inner work combined with outer work on the mountain as our ally, our holder of dreams, helping us to remember our own big story, and re- imagine the magic we possess and re -vision our own wild and precious life.
Understanding the qualities of our mineral is to understand it as an element that has to flow into the world, its energy fluid, solid, carrying our self expression, our strength our courage as well as our big earth story. We so often reduce our stories to reflect the small self, passed down and diminished by our ancestors who didn’t bring their gifts to the world, who got stuck, who turned to stone, unable to speak, to move, to create. When that legacy is left with us, someone in the family has to rumble their own bones to find the courage to break the pattern, to find their voice and re imagine and re birth a new story, lest our single story becomes inextricably linked with our troubled history, labels and self limiting beliefs of who we are.
Millions of years old, the Magiliesburg mountains are our great grandmothers and great grandfathers, and we carry the wounds of our ancestors yes and also their wisdom. So we held up the reflection of the rough minerals and compared them with precious stones rubbed and eroded smooth by our journeys and choosing a rough stone from the mountain we combined it together with a treasure to create a talisman to reflect that we are in fact all diamonds in the rough.
We gathered around the fire in the early mornings, as women used to do, and we sat in counsel, to witness and listen deeply to each other, to each others’ dreamtime, to decipher the signs, symbols and messages that came through. As co facilitator with Maia Marie it was a privilege to be present for such magic, to be immersed in womens’ work, because yes- we were doing our work.
And in the deep knowledge that we are all becoming we created sculptures that reflected our parallel journeys into the wild mountains where the new us, them and we are still unfolding, unraveling and being revealed.
“Make a prayer that is big enough for your wild soul, yet tender enough for your shy and awkward vulnerability; that has enough healing to gain the ointment of divine forgiveness for your wounds; enough truth and vigour to challenge your blindness and complacency; enough graciousness and vision to mirror your immortal beauty. Write a prayer that is worthy of the destiny to which you have been called.” John Odonahue
These warrior women, armed only with weapons of soul stirring instruments, a drum, clarinet, mouth bow, rattles, rocks, poetry and voices that came from deep, old, wise, soulful bones so ancient, so nostalgic, full of longing, prayerful and a calling that any animal would respond to with a recognition of the wild in us all. I was rendered speechless as their voices hung in the air, the silence carrying the sounds that only women can make. Magic in the moment doesn’t do it justice. I felt that I had happened upon a secret cave, a sacred gathering of ancient grandmothers who had crossed the bridge into the modern world, gathered in an ancient ceremony of honoring -each other. I am humbled to have been a part of this as co facilitator with Maia Marie, co founder of Lalela a place of listening. http://lalela.place/
May all worlds bless and protect you always
“There is a shift to the vertical down that re-turns us to root memories, root metaphors, and timeless things that shape our lives from within. Slowing downwards creates opportunities to dwell more deeply in one’s life, for the home we are looking for in this world is within us all along. The lost home that we are seeking is ourselves; it is the story we carry within our soul.”
• Michael Meade, “Why the World Doesn’t End