Affirmations for the Birthing Process

  • My being knows how to give birth and I will let it
  • I am strong and I can let the waves of energy be strong
  • I relax and surrender – one breath at a time
  • I am opening more and more
  • I am safe here
  • I no longer resist
  • I surrender to Love
  • The Universe loves and supports me and my baby
  • I trust and let go
  • The more I give up my fear, the more relaxed I am and the less pain I have
  • I surrender completely to Goddess
  • I breathe full and freely and let go
  • This too shall pass

“To enter that rhythm where the self is lost”

An early article on women’s ceremonies

Women’s Ceremonies

There are times in a woman’s life where it is extremely helpful for her to affirm her innate strength and beauty as a woman.  And to have that affirmation echoed and reflected in the faces and voices of a circle of women.

Goddess grants us our inner spiritual initiations in Her own way, in Her own time, through the winding course of our lives.  But a circle of women can be called together whenever we feel the need of them, to hold and affirm us as we pause momentarily on the brink of significant change in our lives.

Women’s ceremonies can help us: to prepare ourselves for a wedding or handfasting,; to gather our inner resources on the eve of giving birth to a baby, launching a new business, dedicating our lives to the Goddess, beginning a new job or role or creative project, embarking upon an apprenticeship, training program or course of study..  A circle of women can bear witness as we celebrate endings: progressively let go of our growing children, grieve and heal a divorce, the end of a relationship, the anniversary of a loved one’s death; claim mastery and step into the authority earned through our lived experience.

But what about those in-between times of our lives?  The daily round of continuing to show up, pay attention, stick at it.  The months of persistent hard work for delayed or intermittent reward.   What of the years of perseverance?  What sustains us through the ups and downs of a long-term relationship, of family life, of work as a carer, a teacher, a social or environmental activist, an artist or writer or priestess?  Where does the sustenance come from to keep on with a personal journey to heal from physical illness, addiction or abuse?   Or indeed, whatever other form of soul-work regularly occupies your energy and attention, and may occasionally leave you feeling emptied out and weary?

We are indeed fortunate to live in a place and time where so many different spiritual paths and traditions are available to us. Her e in Perth there are temples, churches, mosques, synagogue, a Quaker meeting house, and probably more.  Open the Nova magazine any month of the year and you will find an amazing range workshops, classes and retreats with teachers from a wide variety of traditions offering meditation practices, yoga forms and an ever growing range of healing modalities.

Women work in this world alongside men.  Many of us have fathers, brothers, lovers, sons and close male friends who are a beloved and important part of our social, emotional and spiritual lives.  Our lives are entwined, and from many perspectives our common humanness out-weighs any gender-based difference.  If we eat, work and sleep together, then it is natural enough that we should want to pray together also.  Shared spiritual practice can bring us into a beautiful awareness of the unity which encompasses and underlies our human differences.  Why then, might a woman seek spiritual sustenance in the company of other women?

There is a particular quality about women’s sacred space which is hard to adequately capture in words.  For some women, in some phases of our lives, it offers us something we don’t as readily find anywhere else.  This is particularly true when we are engaged in the “invisible” work of our culture – spinning and weaving the threads of relationship and spirit which bind families and communities and keep the worlds together. (This is not exclusively women’s work, but it is work which many women do).  The Ishtar Women’s Mysteries address this reality, are part of this work, and can help feed and sustain us on this level.

Arguably, before a woman is ready and able to engage in a full, filling and creative relationship with another person, she needs first to have come into her own creative power as a woman. To have tasted her own soul and found it juicy and good.  Even in these supposedly “liberated” days, this is not something easily come by.  We, like a growing proportion of the world’s population, are living with and working to heal the residue of a couple of thousand years of a culture which has stolen the spiritual birth rights of both women and men.  We are drawing on the inspiration of older traditions and finding our own ways to reclaim the gift of being “at home” and comfortably embodied upon the Earth  – body, mind and spirit – in female, or male, form.  The Ishtar Women’s Mysteries are one possible vehicle that a woman may make use of in this quest.


Dwelling Place of the DIVINE – role and purposes of the home altar

Altars are a spiritual technology for focusing and deepening our personal relationship with the Divine.

Many of people have a special place in our homes – a shelf, benchtop or small table – where we keep some of our special things. These are usually things which are especially lovely or which have become invested with a symbolic or sentimental significance because of they way they came into our lives or what they have come to stand for.

By naming and creating our special shelf as an altar we are taking this impulse one step further. By calling it an altar we are investing it with sacred significance. We are, in effect, declaring it to be a dwelling place for the Sacred, however we understand that.

Human beings have been making and tending household altars for many thousands of years.

On our trip to Bali last year Miriam and I were struck by the way that the making and offering of baskets of flower petals – on altars, on the doorsteps of houses, on the footpaths in front of shops and market stalls – was an integral part of every day life for the local Hindu population. Similarly, when I recently went to visit my parents while they were up in Perth for a week, I remarked at how the lady of the house they were staying in had filled her house with many and varied beautiful icons of the Virgin Mary, connecting to what is very much a living tradition of Marian worship and creating a beautiful feminine presence throughout her home.

Altars with Intention

Creating and tending an altar or shrine is like sending out a personal invitation to the Sacred. When we deliberately establish and tend a personal altar or household shrine in our home or garden, we can add power and energy to our project by consicously focussing upon our intention. By consciously creating a physical form that appeals to and arouses the senses – by the use of colours and textures, scents and symbols – we focus our invitation towards their corresponding sacred qualities or aspects of the Divine. If the objects upon our altar invite us to engage – to ring the bell, to light the candle, to dip our fingers into the water, to place offerings of fruit or money or chocolate in the bowl or upon the plate – then each of these actions reinforces the intention or invitation which the altar embodies and increases the energy that it holds.

It is possible to create altars with a wide range of intentions. We can create altars for healing, as an expression of devotion, to manifest desired outcomes. By being intentional with our altars – by careful choice about what we place upon them, and how and where we place them in relation to each other – by giving our full concentration to what we do when we stand or sit in front of them – we send out a particular energetic vibration – and the natural response of the Universe comes back to us as waves of energy.

Energising your personal or household altar

If your personal or household altar or shrine is currently feeling a bit flat, you could try

  • giving it a good physical clean,
  • energetically cleansing it with smoke or salty water,
  • saying a prayer or invocation and blessing it with your hands,
  • spending some time in engaging with it in meditation or contemplation.

January 24, 2010

Story for a winter solstice

A Creation Birthing Story

Golden hands hold the cup,
offered to one and to all for the fulfillment of dreams:
Drink deeply of the Earth and of embodiment!
Mistakes made willingly honour the ferment.
All the green world dances in my cycles shall you yet
hold back in anger and regret?
Drink deep! You have never once been separate,
child of mine.
Child of time… dream born into water and carbon and the twinkling of an eye.

The Story Begins…

In the beginning there was a space without time. Darkness.
Nothingness you call it, I believe.
And then I woke up and with My eyes still closed I stretched.
There was nothingness and There was Me.
Must have been the dream that woke Me.
I smile, touch My belly with My hand, remembering how it felt to be big with dream: All feet and elbows in my innards,
urgent with desire to be out.
I must be near time. No chance of sleeping further.
A deep breath, and I opened My eyes. And there was light.
I rose, and moved My body in the dance of the Creator,
spilling light in milky splashes across the void as I danced.
And when I had finished dancing I sat down.

The contractions came eventually, and the labour to give birth to My first child began.
It was a difficult labour.
I had no idea what to expect. There were no precedents.
I might have regretted this rash dreaming… so I laboured and danced the dance of the woman giving birth as I yelled.
As I tell this, I am again aware of the intensity of sensation, an opening into greater depths, coming more awake to the power of the child/dream within Me struggling to take on form.
My other Self. Myself. Other.
And so the Earth was born into a puddle of stars. Born clothed in the waters of gestation.
I held the child in My arms: sweet fruit of My labour.
Nothingness. Me. And My child. I was already deeply in love.
And she looked up at me and named me “Sun”. We rested together a while.

Then it came time to deliver the Moon.
It came away easily, parting from Me to cleave to the child.
Corded together to climb the cliffs of existence in greater safety.
Placental moon, Earth’s comforter, playmate, companion, counsellor, lover, Beloved One.
And My heart watched as the Earth danced the Dawn of Time, drunk on the newness of autonomy.

And then she was wanting to go.
So I cloaked My child in clouds of desire and fear, and put her into her own hands.

Deep in her oceans the dream went on. And in time, My daughter brought birth to children of her own.
Life was conceived in the water, and crawled out onto the land. Plant and animal, people and trees, each continuing the dream. The generations dreaming together. The spirit children of My grandchildren leaping towards home, dreaming of the beginning.

And in the beginning, Me.


(c) Catherine Ishara de Garis, 1994

Healing Ceremonies

Private Ceremonies for Personal Growth and Healing

Ceremony has always been a vital part of culture, marking changes in social status and contributing to the weaving and strengthening of social bonds. Howeveranother traditional use of ceremony is as a therapeutic tool.

A purpose designed ceremony can help an individual to:

  • explore her inner landscape,
  • integrate past experiences and emotional responses, and
  • gain insight into the underlying beliefs and values which inform her daily experience of reality.

Because it touches deeper symbolic or metaphorical levels of a person’s being the positive effect of a ceremony may continue to be felt for months or years.

WomanPower healing ceremony

A ceremony to empower your heart and your womb-centre, increasing your capacity for self-love and compassion, and bringing greater aliveness and vitality to your being.

This healing ceremony can be of benefit whenever you feel the need of greater assertive power in your life, for example: preparing for a planned vaginal birth after a previous cesarean (VBAC); to reclaim a positive sense of autonomy following a relationship-breakdown or divorce.

The ceremony empowers you to claim or reclaim your innate creative capacities and sense of yourself as a potent, connected, feminine being.

Through symbol and ritual we invoke the red blessings of the Goddess as the Bright Queen of Heaven, awakening you to your innate qualities of queenliness and your innate creative birthing power.

This ceremony may be celebrated privately (just yourself and the priestess) or you may wish to invite one or more close women-friends along to witness and support your healing journey.


WomanGrace healing ceremony

A ceremony to bring healing to your receptive, responsive feminine being..

This ceremony will support the healing journey of any woman working with issues of struggle and surrender, for example: desiring to conceive; recovery from sexual trauma; to integrate a difficult birthing experience.

The ceremony offers reconnection to the nurturing, maternal qualities of the Goddess as She Who Responds To Our Cries, the beloved compassionate Mother of the All.

Allow yourself to be held in the arms of the Mother and restored to your birthright as an innocent child of the Divine. Reconnect with your virginity, in the sense of “Being in a pure or natural state” or “Obtained directly from the first pressing”. Reclaim your capacity to receive intuitive guidance for your life.

As with the WomanPower healing ceremony, this ceremony can be performed privately, or you may choose to invite one or more close friends as witnesses to support you.


A Personal Healing Ceremony tailored to your Needs

If there is a specific issue you want to work with, or if neither of the above ceremonies seem exactly appropriate for your situation, we can co-create a ceremony especially for you.

Please contact Ishara for an appointment to discuss your options.

Invitation to the Quickening Mystery – 2015

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