Inviting Hestia

Aug 7, 2014 by

” …hearthkeeping is a means through which a woman puts her self and her house in order.” – Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses in Every Woman

 

fire meghan gengeWhen I wrote two weeks ago about going into the flames, I was fully committed to following the fire wherever it led me.

I should have known better.

Just before I began my research into the connection between women and fire, three different things happened. The first thing was a conversation between my husband and I as I stood in the kitchen, barely containing my rage. Why was I so angry? Because I was cooking.

I hate cooking. I hate doing the dishes. I even hate helping someone else in the kitchen. I have written about this before, but believe me when I say that this is real. When I have to do anything in the kitchen I seethe with resentment. I have been known to burst into frustrated tears over getting breakfast on the plate. Me in the kitchen is not a pretty thing.

So there I was, standing in the kitchen, up to my eyes in gluten free béchamel sauce and stuck-together gluten free lasagne noodles, on the verge of hysterical tears, and my long-suffering husband says, “You know you are going to have to deal with this at some point right?”

Very helpful.

The second thing happened the next morning when I got on the scale and found that even after almost 2 months doing the exercise program Insanity, I hadn’t lost a pound. Not one. (And yes, I realize that lasagne wasn’t the best choice on a diet – but still!)

The third thing happened only a few hours later. I opened the first book in my research pile and met Hestia.

Hestia: the first-born Olympian. Goddess of the hearth. Hestia was rarely personified. Her symbol and her presence was the hearth fire.  Hestia is domesticity, home-keeping and hearth-tending. In her book, Goddesses in Every Woman, Jean Shinoda Bolen says, “In order for a house to become a home, Hestia’s presence was required.”

I am about as far removed from Hestia as it is possible to be. If I was to choose an archetype to symbolise me, she would not be the obvious choice. But as I sat there, following my heart to the fire, I knew that I had to start somewhere I hadn’t expected. I knew I had to start with me.

If I want to lose weight, I have to take responsibility for my own nourishment. If I want to find a home, I have to create one. If I want to build a fire, I have to light the match.

Before I can gather women around a fire, I have to take responsibility for my own hearth.

Welcome, Hestia.  I’m ready.

xo

 

 

 

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Glowing Coals

Jul 21, 2014 by

Remember, you are not here to play it safe. You are here to start fires.Sera Beak

 

A few months ago I went with three friends to see a Shaman. In one of the sessions she referred to us as the four elements. Somehow we all instinctively knew exactly which one we were. As a Scorpio/ Wood Tiger, I am technically not a fire sign. But Fire resonated so deeply with me that day, I’ve not really been the same since.

Fire.

I have always been afraid of fire. My mother’s house burned down when she was a little girl, and somehow that must have made it into my psyche, because I slept with all of my most precious things (two stuffed animals and two rag dolls) clutched in my arms – so that if a fire broke out, I could save them. Shortly after we moved here, we had a very scary chimney fire. I am also responsible for fire safety where I work. Fire as a theme is very much a part of my life.

I have also been feeling the negative qualities of Fire: burnout. Much is changing in our lives, but I can’t talk about it on here yet, so I feel torn between the decisions we are making and living honestly. I’m working full time, trying to write, trying to move my body, trying to learn a new language, trying to keep up with friendships, trying to be healthy, watching my 40th approaching in a matter of months; burned out and dry and brittle would be the words I would use to describe the situation here.

But Fire. Fire isn’t leaving me alone. The voice I hear inside of me is insistent. Fire is asking me to know it. To reclaim it. To nurture and tend it. To allow it to burn away what is no longer necessary. Fire is asking me to gather women around it. Where my vision boards of the past have been full of whimsical, magical, sacred images – now they are fierce and full of fire.

And I am not alone. Today I opened up Unabashedly Female and found this by Julie Daley:

As I wait, I hear a voice inside, an insistent voice, a fiery voice that is clear about what she wants. Shake it off. Shake everything off that is not true. Strip me bare of everything that hides my nature, that hides who I really am, like concrete laid out in large archaic patches across Mother Earth, keeping her bound, her bosoms unable to rise and fall with those magnificent in-breaths and out-breaths she takes as she prepares meals for her children. -Julie Daley

Fire.

There is a part of me that is still very afraid. Going into the flames is not for the faint hearted, but On Fire feels so much more powerful than burned out.

I am ready.

 

 

 

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A Conversation Between Foxes

Jun 18, 2014 by

“Important encounters are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other.” – Paulo Coelho

 

redfox-1When I signed up to go to a wonderful Squam retreat in Italy, I was full of apprehension. Italy? To do nothing but spend time with strange women while eating and painting? It felt decadent and delicious, and ever-so-slightly crazy.

I had looked at other retreats before – I’ve been coveting a place at Squam in New Hampshire since the very first one, and there have been dozens of retreats led by amazing people all over the world that I thought looked wonderful, but until Italy, I hadn’t taken the plunge.

But something felt different. I felt called to attend. It wasn’t just a wish or a ‘wouldn’t that be great,’ it was more of an ‘I have to do this.’ There was no question that I would go. I listened to that small knowing, and booked my ticket.

Attending that retreat changed my life!

In a shared bedroom in a hotel on an Italian hillside, Susannah, Sas and I birthed the idea that became Redfox Retreats, and last October the first circle of women gathered with us in the Somerset countryside. It was astonishing and nourishing and silly and every single participant told us that they felt changed by the experience.

There is just something about women gathering together that is incredibly powerful.

Sas, Susannah and I got together the other night and recorded a little podcast for you about what you can expect at a Redfox Retreat. We talked about the power of women’s circles, nourishment, gluten free cake, what happened at the last retreat and how even we were changed by it. (It all gets quite silly and very honest by the end!)

I hope you will come and hang out with us – both virtually and in person!

with love,

Meghan xoox

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Speak Up

May 30, 2014 by

“I write because I have come to trust that when we honour our own voice and speak up there will always be someone nourished by what we say.” – Jane Cunningham

 

sunshine

The more I circle around and get closer and closer to what is really true for me, the closer I get to the importance of stories. One of my sisters in this work is Jane Cunningham. Jane’s bio calls her a ‘conduit of Love and a creativity activist’, and I whole-heartedly agree with that description. Jane is also a storyteller, an artist, and a teacher of women’s soul work. Her work inspires me so much – so I was honoured when she passed me the talking stick in a blog hop about voice and creativity and writing.

 

As part of this blog hop, each of us responds to 4 questions. Here are my responses:

WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

I have just released my first novel, so at the moment I am working on sharing that work with the world. I am also working to navigate the strange space that exists after a major piece of work is released. It is a strange and magical space to inhabit. When you write a book, it is very solitary, and it is also often ‘done’ a long time before it is released. It’s hard to get your head and heart back in the space of writing the book enough to talk about it with people, especially when your head is often full of the next project.

I am now working at gathering the bones for my next book. I keep thinking that I know what it will be about – I have even written the first section – but it keeps changing form. My first book was a modern heroine’s journey, but it also was about healing the feminine. This next piece will be far more about healing our ancestral wounds. I am really excited about it but I know that it will consume me in a different way, so I feel a holding back. But as Jane reported back from Dr. Estes: we are obliged to shine our light, and I know that this book will not allow me to hold back for very much longer.

I am also working at learning Spanish and planning the next Redfox Retreat, which is all about looking at our stories -so there is lots to keep me busy!

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN ITS GENRE?

In some ways, my work is different because it is metaphysical women’s fiction. Most books about the heroine’s journey and the divine feminine are non-fiction. When I started writing it was partly to write the book that I wanted to read! There are lots of books with magical aspects and lots of authors who I love, but none of them were focusing on the woman’s spiritual path. Other fictional accounts of a spiritual journey – at the time I started writing – were written by men. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own writing that I haven’t gone looking for a while though, so I hope that there are more now!

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

This is a really easy one to answer: I write what I do because I can’t help it. I write to catch on paper the characters and ideas and words that follow me around. I have always loved spiritual and inspirational writing and have collected quotes and spent all of my money on books since I was 15! Writing never felt ‘right’, though, until I finally listened to what my heart and soul wanted to write.

HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

My process is far less ‘process’ than I would like it to be. The idea for Unfurl presented itself to me as I came out of mediation. I am sorry to say, I have rarely sat in meditation since, as it provides too much inspiration for me to handle! So my writing process is quite changeable. I try very hard to be the kind of writer who can show up every day and write something, but that just doesn’t work for me. I rebel against myself! So instead, I try to listen to the nudges and show up to do something every day – whether that is writing or moving or creating in some way – but I don’t force the writing. I can write for hours, days, weeks with regularity and then I can go for days, weeks and even months without writing a word. When I DO write, however, I lose myself in it. I show up and get out of the way. When I let myself write when it wants to come and allow what wants to come through, I find I get the richest and most surprising writing. When I force it, it comes out stale and stiff. When I write that way and then look back at my writing, I often don’t even recognize it. It is as if I am being used as a channel – like I have been given something to share with other people. It is in those moments that I understand what people mean by being ‘in the flow’.

Lately my focus has shifted to the importance of stories, so some of my process now includes reading about writing and story. I think that the more I read, the richer my writing gets.

Speaking of women’s voice and writing, I now pass the talking stick to the remarkable and deeply inspiring Amy Palko. Amy is a writer, photographer, and publisher and based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She follows the red thread of the subversive sacred feminine, and is endlessly fascinated by where it leads her.

I can’t wait to read what she has to say!

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How Big is Your Brave?

Apr 22, 2014 by

Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live/ Maybe one of these days you can let the light in/ Show me how big your brave is – Sara Bareilles

 

elephant in the sky meghan gengeSeven years. That is how long it has been since I finished the first draft of Unfurl. Seven years. Some people would say that my entire skeleton has regenerated in that time.

Why has it taken so long?

Because I listened to what ‘they’ told me about needing an agent and a traditional publisher. Because I lost a little more momentum with every rejection letter I received. Because I spent a month researching what other people felt was the best self-publishing platform. Because because because.

It’s been seven years because I was afraid.

The Who-Do-You-Think-You-Are gremlins set up a tea party in my head and invited their good friends: Not-Good-Enough and Not-Really-A-Writer. There was also a healthy side order of me not wanting to ‘out’ myself as a spiritual writer (Who-Do-You-Think-You-Are’ also hosted this party). This will be hilarious to anyone who has read one word of my blog during this time.

And then one day the fear of never publishing this book was bigger than the fear tea party. So I got brave and just took the leap.

If you could have seen my brave that day, it was the size of an elephant – a big one – and it had a wolf and a dragon and a black jaguar and a red fox and a couple of angels, a tribe, and a few ancestors beside it.  I was a whole team of brave.

I still don’t know exactly how it is going to go, but I do know that no matter what else happens, I have published my book. It’s out in the world. That is something I can always be proud of. That, and how brave I was to do it.

So tell me: what is your dream? What has been waiting to come through you?

How big is your brave?

xo

 

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