Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Powerful New Year

It seems a few reflections are appropriate as I approach the end of 2009:

~New Year's Eve is a going to be a powerful moment. Not only does it mark the end of the year but also the end of a decade that for most us has been a wild ride. When I look at photos from the 2000 New Millenium Party that I co-hosted with a dozen other neighborhood moms for our families, I glimpse a more innocent world ... before the morning of 9/11 when those falling towers awakend us all to new dangers and called many of us into urgent service on behalf of a more compassionate future.

~ December 31 is also a Blue Moon Lunar Eclipse, what Patricia Cota-Robles describes as "the most significant New Year we have experienced since our fall from Grace millions of years ago. " I don't know about you, but that sentence certainly got my attention. I am ready for all the Grace I can get.

~My experiences at the Parliament of the World's Religions are still fresh in my mind. I felt us ease into a new age during that week in Melbourne: I believe the women are now ready to bring their wisdom, skill and compassionate leadership to the world and I believe the world is now ready to welcome those gifts.

I invite you to join me in dreaming BIG tomorrow as you toast the new year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Report from the Parliament: The Feminine Rising

Report from the Parliament: The Feminine is Rising!
(submitted Saturday, December 5, 2009)

Three days into the Parliament of the World's Religions ... and I am happy to report that the Sacred Feminine is rising at this Parliament in the most spectacular ways. Here is a quick peek at some of the highlights in the past days:

~Our event on Friday afternoon 'A Creative Exploration of the Sacred Feminine' was a wonderful gathering. We had been assigned one of the larger breakout rooms at the Convention Center, and as people approached our space, they were welcomed by a semi-circle of wonderful volunteers holding large color posters of the Sacred Feminine from many faith traditions. (Special thanks to China Galland who shared with us beautiful high resolution images that we could have printed here in Melbourne.) Other volunteers handed out poems honoring Mother from many traditions. As soft music played and the images flowed on the large screen in the front, our room filled with more than 125 women and men. After tuning in with all of you in a Global Moment of Connection, we were blessed by offerings of poems, songs, music and dance from diverse traditions including Celtic, Sihk, Urantia, Muslim, Jewish and Catholic. It was sacred space.

~The next morning featured a panel on The Divine Feminine where women from various traditions -- Pagan, Catholic, Hindu and Buddist -- spoke to room packed with passionate delegates and a large crowd stood in the open doorway. Phyllis Courot spoke about how when she had offered a workshop on the Sacred Feminine at the Parliament in 1993, she had difficulty finding anyone who would join her panel and very few attended. She observed that things certainly seem to have changed with this Parliament and the Feminine was clearly rising! Sister Joan Chittister spoke in her usual clear and strong voice about imperative to bring gender balance to our view of God and to our world. She stressed our humanity is 'seeing with one eye, hearing with one ear, thinking with one half of our brain... and it shows.' The response was loud and loving.

~Next I attended a session called 'Men Who Love the Goddess' and listened deeply as four articulate and intelligent men described how they know and love the Sacred Feminine.

~Later that afternoon, Sister Joan was scheduled for a small open space event, an intimate opportunity for conversation with her. The room quickly filled with over 100 people and hundreds more crowded the hall outside. The staff scrambled to move us into one of the large ballrooms which was filled with more than 500 people as Joan began to take questions. The first question came from a Russian Orthodox priest dressed in black robes: Please help me understand: What can men do to help heal this imbalance and bring an end to patriarchy? The whole room exhaled and Joan lovingly asked all the men in the room to raise their hands. It brought me to tears to look around and see that more than 1/3 of of the group was men opening their hearts and joining fully in this passionate moment.

A delegate sitting next to me said "Sister Joan is clearly the rock star of this Parliament." (The good news is that this humble, honest and very effective woman of Spirit is on her way to Copenhagen tomorrow!)

And I think the real rock star of this Parliament is the Sacred Feminine who is here with joy and grace and an incredible Divine Plan.

Interview on Women's Radio Network

I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by Sharon Riegie Maynard, host of 'Weaving the World' which shares inspiring voices of those creating a new culture for our world, a culture that values all life.

You can tune in to that interview on the subject Women Leading:

http://www.womensradio.com/articles/Women-Leading/4037.html

Monday, November 30, 2009

Heading for Australia

In a couple hours I leave for LAX to begin my journey to Melbourne and the Parliament of the World's Religions. My bag is packed full of ribbons and buttons and poems and images to enrich our event there: A Creative Exploration of the Sacred Feminine.

I think I am ready, though I have come to recognize these last few hours before departure as the 'awkward hours', ripe with conflicting feelings. I am excited to be going and reluctant to leave home ... looking forward to spending this time in the company of some great women and keenly aware of how much I will miss my family and my dogs ... committed to being present in the moment and yet drawn strongly into the future.

A friend said to me at dinner last week "The operational task of our tribe is to bring more credibility to uncertainty, to bring more legitimacy to ambiguity. It is not flawed; it is a place of empowerment." I had to write that down.

And I am living in that place of ambiguity at this moment.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

As One: We Are Our Sisters' Keepers

You are invited to participate in a virtual on-line conference - As One; We Are Our Sister's Keepers - which will be available from November 25 - February 25 at http://www.weavingtheculture.com/. The conference features speakers, artists, music and poets in a unique online format which allows you to both listen in and download the audio files.

I was delighted to be able to contribute as a speaker, exploring 'Spirituality Intersects Leadership.'

This unique event is being held in conjunction with INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE TOWARD WOMEN AND GIRLS.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Women at the Parliament: It Just Keeps Growing!

It is hard to keep up with all the feminine energy building for the Parliament of the World's Religions which will open December 3 in Melbourne, Australia. Women's Spirit Council has created a blog to collect some the magnificent bits and pieces.

What is really wonderful is that you can join this stream of energy no matter where you will be in the world. To find all kinds of ways to join in, visit
Let us know if there is anything we should add! And please join us at this powerful intersection of gl0bal connection, women's leadership and the Sacred Feminine.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Women as 'Economic Engine'

"If ever the world sees a time when women shall come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a power such as the world has never known."
Matthew Arnold, British poet and philosopher (1822-1888)
I have been speaking, writing and organizing women around that quote for the past seven years. I believe it to be true, and I have imagined women rising up together to create a more peaceful, compassionate and sustainable world. This somehow always felt like a spiritual quest to me.
And now I am reading an article in the November 2 issue of Newsweek which is suggesting that this global transformation may actually be coming from an unexpected direction: 'Working women are poised to become the biggest economic engine the world has ever known.'
This is the subtitle of an article Hear Her Roar (written by Rana Foroohar and Susan H. Greenberg)which describes how the economic power and future spending patterns of women will both drive the global economic recovery AND shift our planetary priorities to focus on health, education, the well-being of children and the 'development of human capital'. The article also describes a 'virtuous circle' whereby economic growth fuels greater gender equality, which in turn leads to more sustainable forms of ecomomic growth. And it describes this cycle of empowerment as a global pattern, affecting women in India, China, Vietnam and Uganda as much as those here in the U.S.
I didn't see this coming... because I wasn't even looking in this direction. Once again I am reminded that Spirit works in mysterious ways.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Honoring the Sacred Feminine at the Parliament of the World's Religions

To women of Spirit everywhere:

Wonderful news! The program staff at the Parliament of the World's Religions has tenatively approved our proposal to create an event to honor and celebrate the Sacred Feminine at the 2009 Parliament. The Parliament brings together spiritual leaders from around the globe every five years and was created to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and to foster a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

The next Parliament is scheduled to convene in Melbourne, Australia, December 4-9th, 2009 and presents an exciting opportunity to raise awareness about the Sacred Feminine. The idea of creating a celebration of the Sacred Feminine at the Parliament was born almost two years ago at a Gather The Women conference in St. Cloud, MN. The concept was nurtured at the Constellations of Hope gathering last fall and has continued to evolve ever since.

Individuals from religious traditions around the world have come to know and experience the Divine Mother. Her face is reflected in Kuan Yin, Tara, Shiva, the Virgin Mary, Mother Earth and many other forms. Her voice is too often missing from formalized religion so we are joyful to have this opportunity to invite visitors at the Parliament to come together to honor and celebrate the Sacred Feminine.

We plan to hold the event on the grassy expanse of lawn between the Exhibition Hall and the Yarra River, and to enjoy a creative exploration of the Divine Feminine in the music, dance, poetry and song of many traditions, co-created by women around the world. We trust the result will be a powerful and inspiring experience that promotes spiritual unity, empowers women as spiritual leaders, and acknowledges and celebrates the Sacred Feminine.

We need your help! Please share your thoughts and ideas for the celebration with us. We are particularly seeking recommendations of groups and/or individuals that might like to participate with a short presentation of music, dance, poetry or song. We are committed to having diverse spiritual traditions represented. If you know a group who might like to participate, please let us know, and if you will be in Melbourne, please join us!

There is another exciting opportunity to make feminine Spirit visible at this Parliament. A program cluster has emerged around 'Women's Leadership' and we are excited about this opportunity to build energy and awareness of the value of women as spiritual leaders. We are planning various activities and events to engage Parliament delegates in an exploration and inquiry about the many forms of feminine leadership.

We would welcome co-creators to help shape and hold these women's impulses at the Parliament. Please contact one of us (e-mail addresses below) if you would like to join one or both of these streams of activity. If you can not be physically present, please hold this endeavor in your thoughts, intentions, and prayers, for in uplifting the Sacred Feminine at the parliament, we will uplift women everywhere.

On behalf of the Sacred Feminine,

Meredith Tenney meredithhtenney@yahoo.com
Kathe Schaaf katheschaaf@cox.net

Friday, October 16, 2009

Message from Jean Bolen: Petition for U.N. 5th World Conference on Women

I an delighted to pass along this message from Jean Bolen, author of Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the Earth:

There are new circumstances and possibilities for a UN 5th World Conference on Women. This week, I launched a petition for 5WCW. The preamble provides information and an impressive list of signatories. The petition itself says simply: We, the undersigned, call on the UN, 192 member-states & affiliated NGOs to support a 5th World Conference on Women

Click on to http://gopetition.com/petitions/support-a-un-5th-world-conference-on-women.html

I hope that you will sign the petition and then urge your friends and organizations to go to this site and sign. Ripple effects are geometric. Makes going viral possible!
Let's gather the women, save the world.

With love, hope, and perseverance,
Jean Bolen

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Journey into the Mystery


I am still drifting along in the jet lag two days after my return from Scotland. This was a wonderful journey into the mystery.

First there was a week on Iona, living in Grianan House with six other women and exploring both the island and the bookshelves of this home which Lucy Bruce built in 1930 as a gathering place for women who sought peace. Each evening, we would gather for dinner and circle, reading from Lucy's book When I Consider the Heavens. Like her, we explored diverse spiritual traditions and sought to weave these together with our felt experiences of the spiritual truths embodied by this ancient land. We walked for hours, climbing to the top of Dun I and to the rocky shores of Columba Bay. We collected pounds of beautiful Iona stones and invited wonderful women to join us for tea in front of the coal fire. Our conversations danced through many layers of lore and meaning. And we ate scones and clotted cream as often as we could.

And then we traveled on to Roslin, the small village outside of Edinburgh which is home to Rosslyn Chapel. We heard the delightful story, told by the local people who love and tend this remarkable landmark, who were unaware of Dan Brown's book The DaVince Code and were unprepared when the number of visitors suddenly multiplied from a handful to hundreds each day. The chapel is a feast of images and symbols, history and mysteries carved in stone. Because we stayed in a local hotel just a short walk away, we were able to visit often and come to know the rhythms of this place. Attending a service in the chapel on Sunday morning (this is also a functioning Anglican church), we experienced the juxtaposition of children playing games in the shelter of the ancient intricate stonework and witnessed the community celebration of a baptism. Sitting in the autumn sunshine later on a bench just outside, with the local cat William purring on my lap, I could feel the chapel stones telling their stories in my bones.

So many stories: legends of Freemasons and Knights Templar, of secrets buried beneath the chapel, of a voyage to North America made a century before Columbus, of links to the Arthur legends and the Holy Grail, of the intricate dance between the ancient spiritual roots of this land and the Christian structures that were laid down upon those roots.

The words came to me as a group of us circled in the crypt: There is a truth hidden in plain sight which passeth all human understanding.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Off to Iona

Tomorrow morning I will depart for a remarkable journey to the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland where I will join a small group of women for reflection and retreat. It is a physical journey that has many parts: planes, trains, ferries and buses will all be required to get me from here to there.

We will be met at the jetty by our loving friends, coming together from Canada and the U.K. and the U.S. I know there will be laughter and meals and circle conversation into the night around the candles on the altar. 'Altaring the world', my friend Clare Peterson calls our years of gathering around so many such sacred centers.

And then the real traveling begins. Walking and listening -- to the wind and the waves and the quiet inner voices. Stillness amid the elements and the rocks. Wisdom arising in the flickering light of the flames.

I am ready.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Good News from the U.N.

Here is the good news from the U.N. as announced by Charlotte Bunch at the Center for Women's Global Leadership:

We are very pleased to let you know that the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution today that takes the next step in the process of creating the new Women's Rights entity at the UN. In the text below are the GEAR talking points on the passage of the resolution, and we must now push on our many remaining points to ensure that the entity that is created serves the rights and needs of women throughout the world. We will be back in touch after a few days with suggestions for the next steps in this process. Congratulations to all for your hard work on this.

GEAR Talking Points on Adoption of System Wide Coherence Resolution by the UN General Assembly

September 14, 2009

1. The GEAR campaign is pleased that the General Assembly expressed strong and unanimous support in adopting a resolution today that will enable the creation of the new gender equality entity to be headed by a new Under Secretary-General (USG).

2. Women and their allies from around the world have been advocating for three years for a stronger better resourced agency on gender equality and women's empowerment, and look forward to its creation early in 2010 - during the fifteen anniversary year of the historic UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

3. We urge Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to immediately begin the recruitment process for appointing a strong leader grounded in women's rights and gender equality as the USG who will lead this process of consolidating the four existing entities. We expect a broad, open search process to start promptly so that the USG is in place and the entity can be operational by the time of the Beijing + 15 Review at the Commission on the Status of Women in March of 2010.

4. Member states must also address in a timely fashion all the outstanding issues required for the entity to begin operations, including the mechanisms for governance and oversight.

5. Donor countries need to pledge the substantial funding ($1 billion) to support the proposed strong field operation that the entity must have to be successful in fulfilling the promises made by governments and the UN to the world's women.

6. As civil society has always played a vital role in the UN's work on women's rights, we urge member states and the Secretary General to commit to systematic and on-going participation of civil society, particularly women's organizations, in every stage of the process at global, regional, national, and local levels including in the governing board

7. Women around the world have waited a long time for the United Nations and member states to fulfill the promises made since the first International Women's Year in 1975, the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) thirty years ago, as well as the UN World Conferences in Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995).

8. This is an important and crucial step forward - now it must be made operational without further delay.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Support the U.N. 'Super-Agency' for Women

This article came to me by e-mail today. Please join me in holding this initiative in your prayers over the weekend.

Canada Pushes UN on Women's SuperAgency

By Steven Edwards, Canwest News ServiceSeptember 12, 2009

Plans to announce the green light for a United Nations "super-agency" for women as early as Monday are in doubt because of opposition from three Muslim countries and Cuba.
Canada is at the heart of a frantic diplomatic effort this weekend to convince developing countries in the anachronistically named Group of 77 to break with the "Gang of Four" opponents and ensure passage of the new entity.


Support of the vast majority of the 130-member group is essential if the super-agency -- which would aim to do for women what UNICEF does for children -- is to be endorsed by the 192-member General Assembly. But the G-77, like many other blocs at the world body, likes to act by consensus. This means that the opponents -- Egypt, Iran and Sudan plus ostensibly socialist Cuba -- can hold up the measure even if it is supported by the rest of the UN's core voting body.


"Organizational structure and practices at the UN should not get in the way of delivering on vital women's issues," Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Friday. "Canada has long been a strong advocate for strengthening the United Nations' capacity to deliver on women's issues, and Monday's vote is a chance for the world body to show that it is moving in that direction."


UN reform ideas floated at the 2005 World Summit embraced the idea that more is needed to be done to tackle such gender-related issues as violence against women, women's property rights and HIV/AIDS among women. A panel subsequently recommended that the work of four smaller UN women's agencies needed to be brought together under a bigger agency, and a budget of around $1 billion US is envisioned for the new entity. But though the proposal has been before the General Assembly since 2006, Cuba, Egypt, Iran and Sudan have decided they can now use it to press for other changes they seek at the UN.

Insiders say these four have tied their support for the new agency to their demand that the UN General Assembly be given increased power over funds it collects from donor countries.
While rich countries fund the overwhelming majority of all UN activities, they currently retain power over how a significant portion of the money is spent. Canada's Stephen Lewis is among longtime proponents of the new agency who say the tactic is unacceptable because it is holding up creation of a body he and other supporters say is long overdue.


"I am deeply agitated by the effort to delay the women's agency, and to use women as a foil for other issues," said Lewis, co-director of AIDS-Free World, a U.S.-based Aids-advocacy organization.

"Women are always expendable in the minds of some countries, but we will keep fighting. Women must have the agency that was recommended by the special panel."


The delaying tactics have outraged women's rights groups, who say postponement past Monday -- the last day of the current UN session -- could lead to the idea being shelved indefinitely.


© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Women in the headlines

Everyone is buzzing about the New York Time Sunday Magazine from August 23, which focused on women. I'd like to share the opening paragraphs of the lead article by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOFF and SHERYL WuDUNN, authors of a new book Half the Sky which will be released September 8:

IN THE 19TH CENTURY, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape.

Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense the opportunity they represent is even greater. “Women hold up half the sky,” in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos. There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.~

I have to acknowledge a deep feeling of relief to absorb this validation of the feminine - both for myself and on behalf of the women and girls of the world. I am profoundly grateful to be on this planet at exactly this time to catch this wave of women's leadership with my sisters.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fundraiser for Kenyan Women Septemeber 1

Those of you who are in southern California are invited to come join the fun:
All women, Whole world, Same Same
Tuesday, September 1
7-10 pm
27711 Deputy Circle
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
$20 at the door
This is a fundraiser for Mama na Dada, an NGO based in Kunya Village, Kenya which provides a comprehensive network of services for the empowerment of women and girls of that region.
I had the opportunity to visit Kunya Village in 2006 when I attended the Grassroots African Women's Conference in Bondo, Kenya and I have the great joy of loving Mama na Dada's founder Joyce Oneko as a friend and a sister of the heart. Joyce is an incredible leader, not just in her village of Kunya but through her visionary work on behalf of all the people of East Africa.
For those of you who live far away from southern California, I know that your donation would be greatly appreciated and wisely used to directly improve the lives of girls and women in Kenya. You can mail a check made out to 'Village Volunteers' to me at the address listed above. Village Volunteers is a 501.c.3 tax-exempt organization in the U.S. which is passing along 100% of all donations directly to Mama na Dada.
This is your opportunity to act locally and connect globally.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Illusion of Separation


I spent the past weekend in Seattle at a gathering of women. Out of our circles and conversations, there arose some threads that keep dancing around together in my head:

The subject of the Burning Times kept rising in the room like smoke. First one and then another and then another spoke of the memories still carried in our feminine bones and in our DNA, of how those memories hold us hostage even now and how we white women of European descent are trying to find our way back through the smoke to remember our natural spiritual authority. I shared one of my recent art pieces that I had struggled to allow last winter .... called 'Burning Times'.
We were blessed to receive the teachings of Patricia-Anne Davis, born of the Mississippi Band of the Choctaw for the Taa Chii nii Clan of the Navaho Nation. With Patricia as our guide, we experienced an indigenous healing ceremony which asked us to name the out of balance condition in our world. Our group consensus was the illusion of separation from the Divine Creator.
It is time now for we women to remember our connection to the Divine and to come forward with our spiritual leadership. It is that simple and that complex.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Moon, Solar Eclipse and Heart's Desires

Yesterday was a New Moon Solar Eclipse, visible on Earth in parts of Asia. Whether you could see the eclipse or not, the energy of this event is available to all of us. This solar eclipse is a powerful time to focus on your heart's desires. In the words of The Spirit of Water, "take advantage of one of the most fertile times in the history of our solar system for creating your dreams."

I am making a list this morning of my true heart's desires and spending some time in the next 12 hours to visualize what it will feel like when those dreams come true. It is not as simple as it sounds, because I have learned to choose carefully at these times. I don't want edit my real dreams to make them more reasonable or more acceptable to others in my life. I need to step into the fullness of my greatest vision and believe that I am worthy.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Italy: Women exploring the mystery

I just returned from two weeks in Italy where I attended Satyana Institute's two-part event Cultivating Women's Spiritual Mastery. I first participate in a three day conference in Turin with three spiritual women teachers: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (Buddhist), Swami Abikananda (Hindu) and Sister Lucy Kurien (Catholic) and then traveled up into hills to the rural village of Vidracco for a five day retreat with 27 women to explore the theme of women's spiritual leadership more deeply.

I am still integrating all of my experiences and learnings. Among the things I am contemplating:

~Our group of spiritual pilgrams seemed more interested in Women's Spiritual Mystery than in 'mastery'. We kept surrendering to the unknown throughout our journey together and often found our deepest experiences in the spaces between the scheduled program.

~Women seem to thrive in the cracks between the defined religious dogmas. When both Tenzin Palmo and Swamiji stated strongly at the conference that spiritual seekers must chose one spiritual path and dig deeply, it stirred up waves of disagreement. Women expressed later that this felt patriarchal and dogmatic, that it was not congruent with their own experience as women who have historically been forced to find spiritual legitimacy outside the confines of traditional religious practice.

~We visited the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna at Oropa. It seems appropriate that there is no single explanation for the appearance of these powerful 'black' figures of the Mother and her Holy Child, that she too seems to live in the cracks between the official church stories.

~I met wonderful women from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, South Africa and Europe and will carry them in my heart forever.

My heart is full and I am still digesting all these experiences and more.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

InspiraLogues Offer A Deep Pool of Feminine Wisdom

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to co-create an InspiraLogue with Jamie Walters of Ivy Sea. Jamie has recorded and archived a diverse collection of one hour dialogues under the banner Wise Women: The Way of the Feminine.

You can find my dialogue with Jamie as well as many other inspiring conversations about the role of the feminine at this crucial time on the planet at: http://www.ivysea.com/pages/ivysea_store_audios.html

These dialogues offer a valuable 'lived experience' of feminine wisdom which can nurture and inspire. Feel free to pass this link along to the women of your circles so that more of them can tap into this resource.

Monday, June 8, 2009

An opportunity to support Joyce Oneko of Kenya

On Memorial Day, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Joyce Oneko who was in the U.S. visiting from Kenya. She and Elizabeth Stephenson were driving from Ojai to Palm Springs, and the three of us met at a Starbucks along the freeway for a lovely long chat and numerous hugs and kisses. I am delighted to report that Joyce had been resting and renewing under Elizabeth's watchful care, that she is as full of passion and ideas as ever and that she remains a remarkably clear visionary leader.

Joyce is not only the founder of Mama Na Dada, an innovative NGO in Kenya formed by and for African women to support the empowerment of the African girl child. (http://www.mamanadada.org/) She was also the organizing force behind the remarkable Grassroots African Women's Conference held in Bondo, Kenya in 2006 which brought together 513 grassroots African women to share ideas and build networks of support.

At this moment, there is an opportunity to help Joyce evolve the next layer of her own leadership, of the collective leadership of the women of Kenya and of Mama Na Dada.

Joyce has returned home to Kenya with the plan to hire a full-time director for Mama Na Dada -- a woman from Kunya Village who can begin to manage the eight projects of Mama Na Dada in a focused and collaborative way so that Joyce has the flexibility to respond to the many national, regional and international projects which have been flowing toward her. (One of these is a UNIFEM grant to provide training for women in the displaced-persons camps about their rights under the law and the government aid that should be available to them.)

Joyce feels that the work of Mama Na Dada and its projects originating in Kunya Village must become first even more effective on the ground and then be broadcast as a model for other villages in the region. Her plan is to hire and pay a full-time director who will work using a shared leadership model - empowering and facilitating more women amd young leaders to become involved in leadership roles. Joyce has given this much thought and builds upon her keen understanding of local politics, the complex dynamics among the women and the best use of local resources. She remains commited to capacity building at the grassroots level.

This project will require a fund of $5000 per year.

Your donation of any kind would be much appreciated and would directly impact the lives of rural women in Kenya. You can send funds payable to VILLAGE VOLUNTEERS (with MAMA NA DADA DIRECTOR marked in the memo line) to the following address:

Kathleen Kraemer
309 Benton Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Village Volunteers is a 501.c.3 in the U.S. which has generously volunteered to pass through 100% of all donations to Mama Na Dada.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Soul of the Mother

I have just returned from Soul of the Mother, the lodge where Mohawk ceremonial leader Diane Longboat and the members of her Governing Council maintain the Sacred Fire of the Great Peace. This fire has been burning continuously for more than four years and serves as the sacred center of ceremony, healing and teaching work just outside the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada.

The mission statement of Soul of the Mother can be found on their website: "Our mission is to offer Ancient Indigenous wisdom as a means of awakening the true loving essence of the human spirit. We join with the natural rhythm of the heartbeat of our Mother Earth and we are governed by the sacred world of the Spirit."

It was an honor and a blessing to experience that mission in action as one of seven white women warmly welcomed into dialogue and ceremony at the lodge. As we sat circled around the Sacred Fire with the beat of the drum sharing our visions and passions, I could feel an ancient and powerful through-line connecting me to Creator, through my own spiritual lineage and to my deep love for this Earth. As we spoke about our ancestors, each of us a complex blending of races and cultures, I could see the intricately woven web of humanity and the embodied truth that we are all One. As we spoke of the ancient past and the challenges of the future, I was reminded anew of my own divine assignment in this moment.

Soul of the Mother will carry ashes from the Sacred Fire of the Great Peace to Greenland in July 2009 for the Aasivik Fire and Ice Ceremony ( http://www.fireandice2009.org/ ) and to Africa in 2010. I strongly encourage you to make a donation to help them with this sacred work. You can find out more at http://www.soulofthemother.org/.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reclaiming Grace

Kathe Schaaf
is so grateful to announce the the birth of an impulse
and a declaration of committed intention.

Watch for new developments in the publication of her upcoming book

Reclaiming Grace:

One Woman's Journey of Remembering Her Spiritual Power

Publishing early 2010

Prayers and the lighting of candles would be lovingly appreciated!

Coming soon: http://www.reclaiminggrace.org/

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day Proclamation 1870

Just in case you did not know: Mother's Day was originally started after the Civil War, as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had lost their sons.

MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION, 1870
By Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing her own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God---
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Join STANDING WOMEN on Mother's Day

I am passing along this message from Standing Women.org:

Two years ago and last year, we committed ourselves to stand on the second Sunday in May, Mother's Day in many countries, to signify our commitment to a better world for our children. Many of us have continued our commitment to the world's children and grandchildren every day in many ways. Yet, as the second Sunday in May is almost upon us, this is a special opportunity, to show ourselves to each other, and feel deeply the global nature of our commitment.

Please register where you will stand on "Mother's day", May 10, at www.StandingWomen.org, and invite all your friends to register as well. Making our commitment visible is very important, especially now when crises abound.

Please stand with us again for five minutes of silence at 1 p.m. your local time on May 10, 2009, in your local park, school yard, gathering place, or any place you deem appropriate, to signify your agreement with the statement below. Please stand at a different hour with a different time zone if 1 p.m. is not your preferred time.We ask you to invite the men who you care about to join you. We ask that you bring bells to ring at 1 p.m. to signify the beginning of the five minutes of silence and to ring again to signify the end of the period of silence. During the silence, please think about what you individually and we collectively can do to attain this world. If you need to sit rather than stand, please feel free to do so. Afterwards, hopefully you and your loved ones can talk together about how we can bring about this world."

With the deepest gratitude for all that you do and are,
The Team at StandingWomen.org

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Women's Spiritual Coalition

Calling women of Spirit!

Women who call upon the Divine using many different names
and who represent many diverse spiritual traditions
are arising and gathering
united by their vision of a better world.

If you recognize yourself in these words, you are may want to explore a new collaborative community of women and organizations coming together under the banner
Women's Spiritual Coalition.

This initiative is just beginning to take shape, guided by a core circle of women who have histories with several diverse organizations and multiple spiritual traditions. This core is dedicated to:

  • listening deeply to the wisdom and inspiration of many
  • holding the space for the emergence of divine guidance and collective vision
  • self-organizing using feminine principles and practices
  • creating opportunities for inquiry and collaborative conversations locally, regionally, nationally and globally
  • discovering together projects, actions, activities and intentions which will nurture and magnify the spiritual leadership of women and contribute to global transformation

Over the next year, we will be hosting dialogues and conversations as an inquiry to explore this potential at a number of events and conferences, including the Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne, Australia.

You are warmly welcomed into this sacred space where we can explore together the many dimensions of the sacred feminine, the healing potential of feminine leadership and new paradigms of collaboration.

For more information, contact KatheSchaaf@cox.net or MeredithHTenney@yahoo.com

Sunday, April 5, 2009

4 Girls Glocal Leadership

Yesterday, thirty women gathered on my back patio for Afternoon Tea and Global Connections. It was a wonderful gathering. This sun was warm; the roses were bursting into bloom; there were lots of desserts; and the conversation about the local/global connection was inspiring.

Our guest of honor was Jin In, dynamic founder of 4 Girls Glocal Leadership (http://www.4ggl.org). Jin spoke of her passion for empowering girls in all parts of the world and her belief that developing the leadership potential of girls is essential to the economic and social well-being of any country. Her program is built upon a multi-generational model, training young leaders of college age who in turn reach out to do training with girls on the local level. 4GGL is currently planning a major project in Pakistan, Afganistan and India that will reach across national, cultural and religious boundaries.

Jin welcomed these Southern California women as the newest members of 1000 LEADERS, a leadership challenge to show that everyday people CAN change the world. Until Mother's Day, just as every mother makes her children a priority, YOU can make the world's poorest girls a priority by becoming a LEADER. It starts with $10 and your gift can honor your mother by naming her as the LEADER. 4GGL will acknowledge and name all 1000 LEADERS at the end of the Challenge. http://www.4ggl.org/Donate.html

Leaders from numerous other global initiatives were also involved in this gathering, including Gather the Women, Sophia 2010, The Hunger Project, and United Religions Initiative. We all had the opportunity to explore the local/global connections that are just waiting to be activated ... literally in our own backyard!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Spring Equinox

In the early morning hours of Friday March 20, the spring equinox will occur. This is a moment when the hours of daylight are exactly balanced with the hours of darkness and it signals the coming of spring with all of its magnificence. Days will get longer and warmer and that amazing shade of light green will begin to appear on the bare branches as the persistance of the life force rises.

I will be gathering tonight to celebrate the equinox with a circle of my friends, just as we gather to celebrate all the solstices and equinoxes. We will laugh and talk and we will definitely eat (in our usual delicious potluck style). We will also be doing a quiet ceremony to each reaffirm our dedication to our sacred calling.

May the change of the seasons awaken your senses and stir your dreams. May you discover a thriving living impulse growing from a seed that was planted long ago. I hope your Divine Assignment reaches out to enfold you in its loving tendrils and surround you in the mystery.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Living Celtic Spiritual Tradition

Last week I had the blessing of learning about the 'Living Celtic Spiritual Tradition' of Ceile De. Our teacher, Fionntulach, traveled from Scotland and will be spending several weeks in locations across the U.S. sharing stories, chants and spiritual practices from the Ceile De tradition. Her voice is still singing in my heart and the remarkably integrated spiritual teachings are still vibrating in my bones.

I found it profoundly healing to be in the presence of this balanced spirituality, where both Father and Mother aspects of God are equally celebrated and honored. Fionn relates that Celtic culture was always gender balanced, with women having the same roles, rights and responsibilities as men. Women were welcomed as warriors and leaders and spiritual teachers. This balance is woven into the fabric of the spiritual tradition, which seeks to bring equally the light of the Mother Earth and the light of Father Heaven into the human heart.

You can learn more about Ceila De at http://www.ceilede.co.uk/.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

'A Powerful Noise' Comes to the Big Screen March 5

Imagine my delight last weekend at the movies on a date with my husband when one of the previews was for a special film about the power of women to heal the world that will be shown across the U.S. on March 5. I turned to Doug and said, "See! It is everywhere!"

On Thursday, March 5, in honor of International Women’s Day, CARE will present A POWERFUL NOISE Live in 450 movie theatres nationwide. The one-night event will feature the acclaimed documentary, “A Powerful Noise,” followed by a town hall discussion with expert and celebrity panelists broadcast live from New York City. Go to http://www.apowerfulnoise.org/ for participating theatres and ticket information – or click here to buy tickets now!

Documentary Synopsis:“A Powerful Noise” takes you inside the lives of three women from different countries to witness their daily efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, champion girls’ education and unite ethnically divided communities. The presentation will conclude with a live panel of renowned advocates discussing how women, equipped with proper resources, have the power to help families and entire communities escape poverty.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Moving so fast....

I sat down to write in this blog at least 20 times in the past month and got distracted by some fast-moving idea, question, conversation, challenge and/or possibility that jumped up to surprise me. The short version: Life is fascinating and complicated and glorious...and time is moving fast.

How to summarize: The women keep gathering and having remarkable conversations and cooking up delicious and mysterious stews. Constellations of Hope is following all Her 'yeses' to multiple new impulses and coming-togethers. Doug and I are laughing a lot at our rescued 10 month old Golden Retriever puppy, Sarah and loving on our 12 year old Lily. My boys are very tall and wonderful and they love me. Twenty friends joined me for my 57th birthday on January 20 for a 'Birth-Auguration Party' where we celebrated all the bright energy of hope and gratitude in the air - and ate entirely too much dessert.

May this Year of the Ox bring your rich rewards for following your passion all the way to your destiny.
Love,
Kathe

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mystery rising

Welcome to 2009!

This past weekend I participated in another wonderful weekend of goddess painting with a small group of women. Gathered and guided by Charlotte Backman, we came together to be inspired by the quote "When order crumbles, mystery rises." (From John Shea's book Stories of God)

We could all agree that we find ourselves deep in a time of crumbling order ~ politically, economically, personally, emotionally. And yet there is also something exciting about the opportunity for new paradigms to emerge and the space that is being opened for creative new ideas.

As we flow together forward into the new year, let's really enjoy the paradox, the ambiguity and the quiet center of the deep mystery that is rising. By the way: The lunar new year is January 26 and Mercury is retrograde until February 1 ... so don't be concerned if you are still feeling a bit fuzzy about the exact shape of things to come.