. Everyday Medicine Woman
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Anchoring the Divine Feminine Within

By Susan A. Lipshutz, LCSW

Pachamama is a Quechuan word for Mother Earth. It encompasses the maternal spirit of the cosmos as well as the Earth. In the traditions of all earth honoring people, devotional prayer and gratitude is focused on this infinite source of love, support, and resources from which all life flows. Ceremonies begin and end in loving recognition of these gifts from the Mother, and to remind all of us on the red road to align our hearts and actions in accordance with the fundamental principles that support the balance and harmony of all our relations.

This concept has become one of the more visible indigenous philosophies accepted in North America as evidenced by such celebrations as Earth Day. Yet in our culture we have enormous difficulty honoring the feminine in her human form. While volumes of sociological and psychological theories attempting to explain our conflicting feelings toward mother and the female body exist, none offer any remedies toward healing this collective wound.

The questions contemporary women have been asking for the last three decades focus on the concern of how to reconcile this dilemma so that a harmony and shift can occur — a shift by which we as women can truly embrace the possibilities of self love and true empowerment available when we become one with authentic feminine energy. This quest has more recently been fueled by the voice of medicine people throughout the world who are calling for the balance of power to return to the feminine vibration that channels all actions through the heart. Consistent with the spiritual awakening that is simultaneously erupting around the world, women are not only seeking like-hearted communities to grow with but are finding that an earth-honoring based spiritual practice is providing the healing we have been so hungry for. Women everywhere are discovering the deep vibrational remembrance that we once loved ourselves, revered our bodies, and were the keepers of strong medicine.

Finding contemporary female role models or teachers of these ancient wisdom traditions is not easy. Many of these cross cultural medicine women are practicing their healing traditions in the back of their kitchens unaware that sisters in the United States are searching for them. Not only are there significant language and cultural barriers, but the notion of women leaving their communities for extended periods of time is the antithesis of the medicine most women carry. This medicine almost always involves,"holding space" for their families and villages. On one occasion when elders from the Q'ero nations in Peru were returning to the United States for a teaching tour, one of the women could not come because there would be no one at home to care for the Llama herd.

Upon completion of a long training program in Incan Shamanic traditions that was taught exclusively by men I longed for a woman me ntor. I intuited that this teacher might come to me in unconventional ways. I prayed for this guide during a trip to Mexico while meditating on the pristine beach early one morning. What materialized that afternoon was a small community of native women and children who emanated such a luminous glow that I was uncertain if they were a vision or real. One woman was perched on a rock with the sun glistening on her form and waved to me. I had an encounter with a small boy who turned out to be her son. When she passed by me on the beach she spoke to me in Spanish about being a spiritualist and asked if I was a healer. She told me how God was in the water, the shore, and the moon. She then kissed my daughters and ms on the cheek with the kind of force that I could only imagine from a lightening bolt. During that trip I also encountered a Huichol medicine woman selling her beaded masks and caring for her daughter and grandchildren. No formal wisdom was imparted but much was shared by her gentle touch, firm gaze and mystical creations.

When I returned home I had many visitations by women from all cultures in the dreamtime and began to have a variety of irritating physical symptoms that could only be remedied by purifying my diet, which included eliminating all alcohol and much of the yeast products and refined sugars. Fortunately for friends and family I could still tolerate coffee, but then there is that saying that spirit never challenges us with more then we can handle. Obviously my body was in touch with my destiny path in a way that my mind was not and the purification process was a necessary prelude to what was yet to come.

That summer an answered prayer was realized when I finally had the privilege of working with the Chilean medicine woman LuzClara, who I had wanted to meet for years. LuzClara, a profound healer and ceremonial leader, has devoted her life to the healing of Mother Earth. She has learned from various indigenous traditions and is one of a select few Mestizo women to be initiated into the Mapuche shamanic traditions; a matriarchal healing tribe of Southern Chile. Additionally she has lived in the United States and has a deep love and understanding of the struggles unique to the contemporary urban woman. Words fail miserably to communicate the impact this meeting had on me. During that relatively brief encounter I made a quantum leap in healing aspects of both the feminine as well as masculine imbalances that existed in my life.

I returned home committed to integrating these teachings in my professional and personal healing practices. I began to forgive not only my body for not being perfect but the culture that imprinted this wound on my heart and self-concept. I began to honor my moontime and offer my blood to the Earth Mother in my garden and my plants. The tree in my office had flowering buds that spring and my cactus plant grew arms that looked like breasts. Nine months after that original prayer on the beach I had a dream that I had grown a second uterus. It was swollen with blood and popped open like a water bag before the delivery of a baby. When I meditated on this amazing dream, the guidance I received was that I now had the space necessary to hold the collective, and it was time to create a medicine circle for women.

Eighteen months later I am in the process of weaving my third circle. Together we have created a sacred hoop where each woman can grow her own medicine. Through the purity of our heartsí intent and the power of our prayers these circles have found a den deep in Pachamamaís belly where we have been held sweetly and grown strong. While most of the participants do not have a chosen career as a "healer", all have a healing affect on those they touch. Together we have shared, witnessed, sang, cried and cheered in support of each otherís journey to reclaim our souls and our wholeness. The most amazing miracle of our circles has been the presence of the most healing elixir in the universe — love.

In June of 2000 the circles came together to form one powerful community to celebrate and honor the creation of a collective dream. Our guest faculty was LuzClara and DJ Leggit, medicine woman and director of Camp Ronora, an exquisite piece of sacred, native land in Michigan where the gathering was held. Merging with the elements enabled us to surrender the residual cellular memories of self hatred, cultural violations and unhealthy physical conditions to the beautiful lake that magically transformed into the watery womb of the Mother. LuzClara led us into the creation of a Mapuche community healing ceremony. Her lyrical way of stating that "your healing is my healing" came to life as we all dressed up for ceremony and the elements, celestial beings and ancestors of our South American sisters graced us with a life altering visitation. By the time we humbly crawled into the womb to participate in a Sweat Lodge dedicated to the life cycle of the woman, we were all ready to sweat like warriors. We whispered stories of our first moontime, gave thanks for our mothers and prayed for our sisters around the world. D.J. made the depth of this experience possible by opening the lodge retelling the story of how native men marveled that women could bleed but did not die. When we left that Sunday afternoon some of us felt shaken to the bone, others with profound rejuvenation; all of us knowing that the juicy, passionate, loving and sacred wisdom of the feminine was resuscitated within each of us and had a strong pulse. Our partners, families, children and friends all sensed this approaching presence and welcomed us home knowing something powerful had happened.

During the course of the gathering our resident crone LuzClara calmly stated that since going through ìmellowpauseî initiation she was no longer anyoneís mother. I followed behind her feeling like I was everyoneís mother. However, when I returned home to my two beautiful maiden daughters my vision was attuned and awakened to the wonder of the triple goddess with a new understanding and appreciation for what, at times, can feel like a mundane life.

For centuries women have found reasons to create circles where healing and growth could happen in the safety of their collective basket of love. Throughout the world women are reactivating this process as a means not only to regain what our lineage has lost but to strengthen ourselves, our stories, and our connection to the sacred mysteries of the divine feminine and ancient medicine ways. Just like that circles that have gathered to sew, share and tend to the births and the deaths, our sisters are finding that isolation breeds fear and illness and love and admiration invites freedom and strength.

Upon return home that particular Sunday, the most important reasons for our devotion to this remembrance stood right in front of me. It become clear that the gift of the reactivation of the divine feminine would free the energetic lineage of seven generations of the past to be reunited with the possibility of seven generations yet to come. This was no longer just a concept for I could see it reflected in my daughters' eyes.


Susan Lipshutz



"Susan has a gentle, wise and 'very human' way in her teaching style. She has been such an inspiring role model with her honesty and courage about her work, that I have started my own Women's Medicine Circle!"

– Linda R.

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