Prior to the pandemic, for years, Jackie Crovetto has met with women in her home in Glastonbury and in London to form “Circles of deep listening to the Earth and each other.” This year, Jackie held a 40-day women’s online retreat on the Sacred Feminine and the Earth, and men were invited to join in support. Below I present the second part of an interview I conducted with her after the retreat had finished.
This way of feeling from the inside, from the heart, is a very feminine thing, and we have forgotten that. … Our people have the story about the Womb at the Centre of the Universe, this is where we get all of our Original Instructions … It’s the place of creation and creativity, and women have that same field of energy inside themselves, in their wombs. We say that [without that] nothing new is going to be created … Women used to be considered sacred all over the world, and we forgot why. This place of creation and creativity is in them, and when they gather together in sisterhood, in unity, healing themselves and projecting this field of energy that they have onto the outside, then something new is going to be birthed.
“I do not ask to see, I do not ask to know, I ask only to be used.”
Forty minutes for 40 days for the Divine Feminine — this instruction was just present in me when I awoke one morning. Later, I found myself pondering why 40 days is the traditional period for making a spiritual retreat, and I remembered that we spend 40 weeks in the womb of our mother. So it’s a very appropriate number of days to set aside for women’s work. These 40 days would be a return to the womb, the cave, the matrix of becoming. Any spark that initiates the birth of something needs time to gestate in darkness, so perhaps our commitment to forty days would be enough, a beginning at least.
Peter Kingsley has described (In the Dark Places of Wisdom, 1999) how in times of trouble the priest-shamans of Ancient Greece practised ‘incubation’. They would go to specific caves, lie down in the dark and wait for a ‘dream’ to guide them. Part of this ritual required a state of awareness where all the senses are fully awake and enlivened. In this state, the senses come together and there is a sensation of dropping down into the very ground of being out of which everything arises. In this way, the help they sought would emerge. Metis is the term the Greeks had for it, and Ilarion Merculieff describes how his people employ a particular field of awareness to hunt sea lions and navigate their kayaks in mist and fog out in Alaska’s Bering Sea.
My teacher was my grandson. At seven months he started learning sign language through ‘sing and sign’ classes. Once he had all the gestures, he started putting them together. One day he was, as I perceived him, totally absorbed playing with a car on the floor when I noticed his free hand signing: “cat fence, plane flying, Sally playing road.” I realized that his field of awareness and perception was so much vaster than just the room we were in and I thought, “Yes, that’s how we’re supposed to be!” It’s how we are born, but we shut down our senses as we grow up.
It’s very hard to describe, but when we practice this in our groups it is as if the skin can suddenly see, and the soles of your feet have grown ears and every cell and bone in the body has an access to the wisdom of the Ancients. The heart also awakens as an organ of perception which sees and hears and knows. Intuition, inspiration, gut feelings are all aspects of this knowing that come into the body first, and only later into the mind. As Ilarion says, “We need the heart to tell the mind how to think and act to get us out of the mess we are in”. Not the way we are now, with the mind and ego in control and our hearts ignored. Thus, if we start to live from the heart, we will feel our love for the Earth and no longer treat her as we do.
As mentioned (please see Part I), we had a period of several weeks prior to the 40 days to prepare and hold our intention. We also paid particular attention to the piece of land where each of us is living. As many of us and most of humanity now live in an urban environment, it is vitally important to deepen and maintain our intimate relationship with the land that we are actually living on, the land that shelters and supports us. Every thing is matter, that is Our Mother Earth, including bricks, concrete, and tarmac: they have all come from her body and we can never restore them to her, but we can respect and give deep gratitude for what we have taken by force, which is nearly every object that surrounds us. So, we visited a chosen place each day with a prayer and an offering.
We also connected with the history of place, where rivers and streams once ran, where groves of trees once stood, the animals, birds, and insects that once roamed and sang, hearing the echo and resonance of their calls and cries in the deep hum of the land they once knew as home. Doing this, we find a mode of deep intimacy with the piece of Earth that has claimed us and start to learn the way that it speaks to us. How to be with it, attentive to all the messages carried on the wind, the traffic, the water, the birds, the animals, the plants, the Spirit beings, the Angels: above all, attentive to what She asks of us at this time of dire need.
Listening to the Indigenous Elders the message is very clear—these next few years will determine if we will sink or swim; they urge us to step up and live the gifts life has given us for the sake of the whole. So, if you are reading this and have felt a nudge or hint from Life to initiate something but have not acted, please just go ahead and make that first step for all our sakes. Life is crying out for our full engagement; and something happens when people come together in service to Life, in whatever form that may be. The gates of Grace open and unseen hands start helping.
And yes, we do need to witness what is happening on the world stage of politics and big business, but the Elders also stress that it is very important to guard against giving any of our life energy to these old crumbling structures, by sinking into feelings of despair, frustration, anger, and fear, or trying to fight them as an enemy. Sadly, this is what we are doing with the pandemic, we have turned it into a war which we must win instead of looking at the root causes, and that is how we are living — destroying our very ecosystem, desecrating the body of our Mother Earth, dis-ease begetting disease.
We also looked at anger, asking ourselves if we as women still hold any anger towards men and the patriarchy, as this is a serious obstacle to the work. The women’s groups we have held over the past 15 years have never focused on our personal problems and trauma, however, we always begin with a practice for dropping our personal stuff by moving energetically from ‘me’ to ‘we’ to Oneness. What I have noticed over time is that Oneness includes everything, meaning all our personal wounding and baggage too. Because we didn’t focus on ourselves and on getting something, a space was left for grace to flow in, and certain issues just fell away or lost their grip — where people had been stuck there would be a shift. Forgiveness is terribly important too, especially at this time of deepening polarization. As Lyla June states, “Forgiveness is the most powerful medicine in the world” and we listened to what Lyla shares here. It is a most powerful case for forgiveness.
I would like to end with this invitation from Pat McCabe, Woman Stands Shining, Diné (Navajo) Elder:
It is time for the women to pray together again, to remember our sacred biological and spiritual function as the life bearers, the life bringers, and the creators to serve the thriving of all life.
Wholeness is a sacred feminine power, holding this physical connection with all life is our sacred spiritual responsibility.
At the onset of our time together we each kept a daily journal, a few of our experiences are given below.
J: An experience of being on the threshold, the threshold of life – death – life. Was shown that the outer circle of women are praying for the Earth or meditating, whilst another circle is holding the space, altogether enabling a few to do the work. Saw how the men are surrounding the circumference protecting the space, how their energy flows around the women, and how their energy moves to support and protect any individual women who need help. What I saw were forms present in space, the words that came were ‘a living henge’ (similar to Avebury in arrangement). Life had arranged us as a powerful energetic organism of prayer and love.
V: On the day we started I went out for a walk through the woods and down to the river and had a strong sense that during the 40 days I needed to come down and sing to the river every day, which I have done.
On the fifth day, I asked the river to help me remember. She answered, “as I help you remember so you help me remember” and I was shown how we must do this together, weave a thread of remembering together. The Earth cannot remember alone, we cannot remember alone, we must join together in the remembering, we are one re-membering, making whole what has been separated: Oneness.
As I walked further along the bank, I had a flash of light, insight, understanding. Oh, this is not what life was meant to be, Life is meant to be ceremony, every day a ceremony, ceremony in the everyday actions we make, a constant remembering, so that neither we nor any aspect of Earth forgets the sacred, the holy, the love, the vibrant life we are together. This is our work.
As I walk down through the woods to the river day after day, I feel myself more completely woven into the tapestry of trees, birds, animals, the living conscious ground under my feet, the air I breathe. I greet the wind in my face, acknowledge the welcome return of the sun, know that the water runs through my body as it runs through the body of the Earth herself, feel the intimate connection. Without breath I am dead, where do I end and air begins? Without water I am dead, where do I end and water begins? Animal self in its own living landscape.
Day 14, I ask the river to take our song, our remembering on her journey to the sea and I have a sense of that thread going out to all the waters and not being lost or diluted, but becoming part of the whole. Each prayer we make, each praise, each acknowledgement, each expression of love, of gratitude becoming a living part of the whole.
L: I was shown a meadow full of flowers but from the vantage point of being on the surface of the Earth, so I was looking along and up through the grass and flowers pushing up through the Earth. There was an impression of light, the purest blue sky and air thick with scent. I knew this was a garden (but not in the sense of a man-made garden) and was told or understood that to see it all would be too much beauty to bear. As it was, just what I could see and feel was almost unbearable. It was the Earth, pristine, on the First Day. I had a strong sense of the circle, of us all contributing and making this possible.
J: In our meditation yesterday opening into the space there was a particular sweetness present, and a very fine frequency, a quality of love that I have only experienced at the birth of my children. That pure Love, the essence that comes directly from the Source… became one with the breathing sleeping land, with an awareness that was in everything. Then the land awoke! This is the first time I have experienced it in this life — previously I have only entered Her dream. For it is as if our Earth is sleeping and I find myself lucid within Her dreaming-self, with the other women and many Beings trying to coax Her awake, calling Her name, singing Her song. This time I heard Her voice cry out “Where are my people? Where are my people?!” Then time concertinaed, and all these people from all ages were responding and present. So many arrived, from all times, all places, right back to the dawn of time, even the Shining ones were present and visible again, they were all rallyin… to help? Then I felt the World awake, seeing and experiencing Her divine nature, Her true essence, Her soul, without any veils of distortion. For a few moments only was it possible to bear such a vast radiance and beauty. The contrast was like being in the deep blackness of space when an unexpected sunburst suddenly fills every atom and all the heavens with light. That one glimpse, totally unforgettable.
W : (a man): I was with the men in a small circle inside the larger group of women who were in an outer circle. The men were joined together in a small circle, kneeling with our foreheads on the earth. Then the ground opened up inside our closed male circle to create a hole about 1-2 meters wide. The men stepped in this hole, inside the earth, standing upright in a circle, to allow something from the women to flow through this hole into the earth. When this was done, we stepped out and the hole closed up.
W: The work of women is always invisible. The women were leading and the men supporting. Together they make a whole day – night and day.
D: (a man): A sense of concentric circles in my heart. A huge release of joy… I need to rephrase my own story as well as the collective one. Recognizing the beauty and power of the Earth as well as the power of our imagination. So, why not imagine a world that’s real and connected.
M (a man): I came in to be a protector and sentinel. The main thing for me was the awareness that we men can’t do anything right now but can be there with the intention of “Yes.” It’s time we take a step back.
L: The men were there to allow what women need to do. On a societal level that’s pretty absent. I felt that maybe the Old Woman (please see The Old Woman Weaving in The Cave in Part I) didn’t feel so alone anymore. At one point I was sitting in a cave with just an oil lamp. I see her as a kind of World Spirit — she’s at large in the world all the time. If there’s no trickster spirit to unravel things, there’d be stasis, no movement. Perhaps we need to be wary of trying to stop the dog or crow. The fire is the Life force that’s always there; the fire has now gotten out of hand and needs to be dampened down. The dog/crow is like Prometheus bringing something vital, moving fluently between the outer immensity and the inner tinyness.
K: The very first time I sat in one of these circles, I said to one of the women “but where are the men in this?” It’s a grief I quietly carried. It’s been in my heart as an ache. So, it’s really enlivening that we’re working out a space where we can come together. We’re just working it out. I’m really glad there’s a collaboration. I feel joyous and it’s also a relief. When we come in service to the whole, we become part of the whole.
C: Somewhere inside me there’s a memory of how things could be. It’s just the beginning of piercing into one of the many layers of our ability to be with and listen. The 40 days was a constant focus on listening deeper to nature when it cries to us, men and women. What does that really mean? I need to be inwardly willing to listen.
The images referred to below come from the story of the Old Woman Weaving in the Cave.
U: …the seeds in the cauldron. What seeds do we take into the new era? Looking at the patterns we have that need to be unravelled. Something in the story has changed because the men were just being there without a plan or doing.
J: I was taken on a healing journey. I was given incredible help. I was aware of thousands of beings in the inner planes who were so excited we were doing it. I’ve been living different aspects of this story: tending to the fire, looking at the cauldron. I got taken into my womb and a fire was smouldering and the Old Woman was over the fire. At first, she takes no notice, and then she looks at me, and I at her. Other people join her inside my womb. I become a creature of the darkness. I’d never liked the darkness, now I walk up the hill at night and see Sirius (Isis), she has colours. That’s when we see where we are, at night in the Cosmos!
M: Thinking about what my thread is and the thread of everyone. The threads of the masculine and the feminine. The warp and the woof of weaving… The big thing for me in the mornings is feeling the deep mothering of the Earth, the Creation, and the Creator. I spin in the mornings and sing. We’re all Her and the experience of the one breath. The voice comes from the Source, singing from Source to Source. A connection with the Earth and the One Breath. Knowing that it’s known (the Breath) despite my head doubting and questioning. All Her manifestations in the morning singing to expanding circles, all the women, all the men, all the fish in the sea that I also am.
You can contact Jackie at firstname.lastname@example.org
The voice of my parents flows through
and their parents’, too, though less loudly,
and who can say what came with me
from other lives? No matter our origins,
no matter our story, when we meet
our streams mingle. Showers could burst
to fertilize the plains, or instead, blindsided,
back-turned, the flow might plunge underground
waiting for that inner dowser to bring it round.
Look in the mirror—my lukewarm disclosure
won’t cut it. My half-hearted commitment
to understanding you will never bridge
the yawning gulf. Our streams ache
to make the music of waterfalls.