A Breastplate of Protection – For the Goddess of Love, Nov 3

In the tradition of the Goddess, we’re reminded that each of us is the Goddess.

When Freyja, the Norse Goddess of Love, descends to the underworld, we ourselves are making that journey, She is our guide, and at the same time she illuminates the way that we’re called on to make the journey

In ancient stories, she’s gone to fulfill her vow to spend a night with each of the four creators of the beautiful golden necklace, Brissingamen. In the new rendition of her journey (see schedule on San Bruno Mountain, Sunday October 30), the dwarves who have crafted this object of beauty are also the guardians of the elements, and the true destiny of Freyja’s involvement with the necklace, spoken of as “The Jewel of Humanity’s Enlightenment”, is only revealed during her journey.

You’re invited to craft a breastplate for her journey.  While the full story will be told on San Bruno, abbreviated visualizations shared as we craft the breastplates will help you sample the journey that each of us faces in this time of transformation on the planet.

Using story, drum journeys, hands-on involvement with the use of tangible symbols, explore the roots of your power.  In present time, we urgently need to confirm our ability to be aware of and acknowledge our own power to be in right partnership with the elements of creation.

Portions of palms will provide a natural base for the breastplate;  beads, yarn, paint, Milagros, and an assortment of surprising materials will be available to incorporate into your personal vision of empowerment as a partner of the elements.

Ginny Anderson, eco-psychologist and teacher of shamanic practices, and Eric DuPraw, woodworking artisan, join forces to help you create the Breastplates of Protection.

Sat, Nov 3rd – 10:30 am to 3:00 pm  Cost $50
Mid-Peninsula address given when you reserve a space. For further information, or to reserve a space, contact Ginny Anderson, 650-323-4494, or email Ginny at freyjand@comcast.net

Imagine A Woman

Soon, via sacred mountains near San Francisco Bay, we’ll be exploring Freyja’s journey to the realm of the dwarves.  When I read this poem today, written by Patricia Riley, it seemed very much to represent the kind of thinking  that would  occupy Freyja’s mind space  as she dared  such a journey.  I wanted to share it with you, sending thanks also to Ocean, whose Deaf Pagan Crossroads is a frequent source of inspiration.

I am including an excerpt here – the full poem can be read on their site.

Imagine a Woman by Patricia Lynn Reilly

Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.

A woman who honors her experiences and tells her stories.

Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.

Imagine a woman who believes that she is good.

A woman who trusts and respects herself.

Who listens to her needs and desires,

and meets them with tenderness and grace.

Imagine a woman who has acknowledged the past’s influence on the present.

A woman who has walked through her past.

Who has healed into the present.

Imagine a woman who authors her own life.

A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.

Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and to her wisest voice.

Imagine a woman who names her own goddesses.

Read the rest of the poem on their website. and imagine your own possibilities.

A Wisdom Story – my new mountain series

Freyja - The Norse Goddess of Love

Freyja - The Norse Goddess of Love

The wisdom story of the Norse goddess Freyja and her magnificent golden necklace takes us to four mountains that surround San Francisco Bay. Join us in a new exploration of this journey – a narrative for our times about the power of love, the strength of intent, the willingness to sacrifice, and the balance of power that inspires us to rethink our personal roles in the transformation of life on the planet.

Freyja, the goddess of love, threw caution to the winds and followed four dwarves into the hidden darkness of the earth. She would pay any price to possess the magical necklace, Brissingamen. Freyja was a shaman, skilled in prophecy, astral projection, and divination. The dwarves, guardians of the elements and directions, worked below the surface of the earth forging magical tools and instruments –including Brissingamen, their most beautiful work of art.

The human race also lusts for Brissingamen – emblem of the elements and a key to our harmonious existence. The entire human race is at stake as we flounder, searching for a way to live in balance with the very elements that sustain life – and equally have the power to annihilate us.

Heimdall returns Brisingamen to Freyja, in an anachronistic painting centuries after the era of the myth's popularity.

Four local mountains will be our points of entry as we descend via shamanic journeying to discover our personal relationships with the elements. The ancient vehicles of poetry, song, and story-telling will carry us each day on this sacred exploration. Gentle walking, taking space, journaling, and personal sharing will be encouraged, as we pursue the quest for Brissingamen, the “jewel of humanity’s enlightenment”.

The mountains will include sites mentioned in my award-winning book, Circling San Francisco Bay: A Pilgrimage to Wild and Sacred Places. Since several sites could serve the same element, the combination will be based in part on the home territories of the participants.

To apply for participation, please email me something about your current quest and whether meditation or shamanic journeying play a part in it. What attracts you to this journey?

Scheduled dates: March 24, April 14, April 28, and May 12.
Cost: $150 for the series, $135 for payment in advance by March 10.

Email Ginny Anderson, at Ginny@eco-psychology.com or visit my website to read what others have said about past events.

Response to the War on Women in America

A Pilgrimage with a Purpose to Sacred Mountains

Within the last several weeks, drastic attacks have been leveled toward women in America from our own Congressional representatives.  The one that arrested my attention was the House of Representatives’ vote to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood centers.   The list below from MoveOn includes 10 astonishing actions and dialogues that represent deep threats to our freedom.

Let’s take a look at our lineage – in meditation and shamanic journeys, we can hear from our mothers and grandmothers. A pilgrimage to sacred sites near San Francisco Bay can provide contexts for an exploration of personal stories – the way our lives have been touched by these issues, the implications for our lives and those of our children. Let’s avail ourselves of the opportunity for grounding in the natural world that sustains all life on the planet – including the members of the House of Representatives!  Visits to three sites will take place on weekdays during April and May, organized around the availability of those who’d like to participate – so let me know of your interest, and the dates will come out of the responses.

If you’re too young to remember not having birth control information available, or for that matter birth control itself, you’re about to be part of a national throw-back to a time of diminished freedom, a time of being demeaned beyond what you could possibly imagine.  I personally lost my 4 year scholarship to graduate school at New York University many years ago when my pregnancy was discovered.  They graciously allowed me to stay in the program without financial aid, saying “This is just why we don’t want women in this program!”  We cannot allow the current political climate to take us back to the times when women were second class citizens.

Let Nature speak to you, remind you of your lineage, help you explore our role and our opportunity to make mindful choices in this time of human existence on the planet.

Email Ginny for more information on journeys into nature, guided by community and by the ancestors to extend our paths forward. We are shaping the future.

Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP War on Women – from MoveOn.org

1. Republicans not only want to reduce women’s access to abortion care, they’re actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven’t.

2. A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain “victims.”

3. In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)

4. Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.

5. In Congress, Republicans have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

6. Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids’ preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.

7. And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.

8. Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.

9. Congress voted yesterday on a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.

10. And if that wasn’t enough, Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can’t make this stuff up.

Footsteps of Spring

It’s light from below, rising to the surface.  Creamy yellow flowers, very close to the ground, are wreathed by pale green leaves. When Footsteps of Spring bloom, they bring to my mind Persephone rising from the underworld, foretelling of spring, her golden hair spread on the surface of the earth before she’s completely returned to human realms.

What would she see that might entice her to come out? On the fields of San Bruno Mountain, other flowers are already beginning to dare the weather.  Fragile pink-white blossoms of manzanita near the mountain’s summit present themselves.  Here, where such endangered species are protected, each year’s new blooming is a gift.  She might also see wallflowers, a reminder of the centuries when people carried these luxurious blossoms.

Maybe she would see YOU, out and about on the green slopes of San Bruno or elsewhere on the mountains surrounding San Francisco Bay.  Connect with  MountainWatch.org to find free guided walks on the mountain – or contact Ginny Anderson (650-323-4494) to arrange a hike with friends involving shamanic journeying with Plant People on San Bruno. Or, come join us for a Mountain Meditation on Mt. Hamilton, February 28 from 12pm to 4 pm.

Building Community with the Natural World

Lean times carry a built-in invitation to enhance our sense of community. That turns out to be around kids’ schools, various interest groups such as book clubs, dancing, a night of cards – a variety of activities that bring people together.

But we aren’t limited to the human neighborhood to provide different ways of experiencing and of thinking. More ancient than the oldest people still among us more successful at living on the edge, are various other life forms.

Ginny Anderson presenting at the Pagan Studies Conference

Ginny Anderson presenting at the Pagan Studies Conference.

Plants, animals, and the stone people are allies, modeling ways of being, and demonstrating amazing survival skills. Biomimicry pays attention to the wisdom of plants and animals to learn new ways to live in greater harmony with the natural world – everything from glue to heating systems have taken clues from nature.

As we take part in the changing identity of the nation and its place in the global community, we can’t afford to lose sight of the importance of nature in building community. If we lose our relationship to the land and its stories, we lose the guidance of how to live on it and with it, the guidance to care for it, and the will to protect it.

But to our great peril, many changes in modern life limit direct experience of nature. Already, countless kids have never stepped off pavement. There are many people whose only connection with nature is through the Nature Channel on TV –preferring to view it from the living room couch – where, I’ve been told, the view is better, it’s not as much work, and they can see more. . Richard Louv (1) pointed out that baby boomers may be the last generation of Americans to have an intimate relationship with the land and water.

While that’s certainly true, not only are other dimensions of the relationship lost, but human physical functions and sensory capacities are diminished through lack of use.  Thinking and creativity expand in the spaciousness of the out-of-doors.  Silence itself is no small part of the wonder: Osprey Orielle Lake (2) calls for a deeper kind of listening to the living Earth. She comments that “The Big Quiet invites us to be present with ourselves and our place… and to include the entire Earth Community, down to the smallest of plants and animals, in our conversation.”

Humans have been successful in occupying more diverse natural conditions than any other life form; in part, it’s been done by paying attention to how other species deal with the circumstances. Particularly potent communicators include mountains or high places, bodies of water, certain plants, animals, and birds, and certain stone formations. Wherever we live, the territory itself holds survival information; in addition, it offers unique opportunities to experience wonder, joy, and the experience of being more than your separate physical self.

Two upcoming series offer different approaches to expanding awareness.

Abundant Life in Frugal Times” is a day-long creative event releasing barriers to opening the heart.   This stand-alone experience, second in a four-part series, offers various ways to awaken joy, and support our life’s purpose.

A circle of six mountains surrounding San Francisco Bay forms a container for the experiences we’ll be sharing in the second series (find details at Circling San Francisco Bay .  The culture is in a profound state of flux; the transitions are leading to totally different ways of being. Each site is a source of inspiration for personal exploration, and holds the potential for transforming your relationship with the web of life.

There will be time for silence, for listening and receiving new forms of communication; there will be opportunities to observe the unsung beauty of the natural world. Story-telling, guided visualizations, singing, journaling, and ceremony will all have their places during our time together.

Related books I’ve been enjoying:

1.    Louv, Richard. The Last Child in the Woods.  (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2008)

2.    Lake, Osprey Orielle, Uprisings for the Earth. (Ashland, Or. 2010)

3.    Abrams, David. The Spell of the Sensuous. (New York, N.Y. 1996).

Abundant Life in Frugal Times

Part II: Priceless Ways to Nurture the Heart

Sunday February 20, 12:00 PM to 4 PM

Queen of Hearts

Queen of Hearts

The heart is our source of strength and inspiration as we walk our personal journeys.  Its steadiness, its capacity to open to beauty, joy, and even to sorrow or fear, brings us to the full experience of our lives.

Join us for a creative event where you will explore how to release barriers to opening the heart. In sacred space we’ll bear witness to the stories you’re releasing and the new stories that are wanting to be written.

Movement, sound, touch, Nature’s beauty, and stories all play a part in awakening and nourishing the heart.  Discover ways to uplift this constant companion of all our days.

At this particular season, the collective honors Love through the giving of cards and flowers. We will be turning that nurturing attention back onto ourselves by creating a Valentine for our own hungry hearts.

Come with us as we expand our sensory capacities, opening to the varied ways to awaken joy in the heart and support our life’s purpose.

Please bring an object that represents your own awakening heart for the altar we will create.

Cost: $40-25 sliding scale.  A $10 deposit holds your space.  Send check to Carol or Ginny at 19 Irving Ave., Atherton, Ca. 94027

Contact us to reserve a place, or to get more information:
email: Carol Fitzgerald
or 650-722-1292
email: Ginny Anderson
or 650-323-4494

Trail Teller

In Anticipation of San Bruno Encounters with the Life Forms
Who Hold the Line against Extinction

In springtime San Bruno Mountain is exuberant with a palette of wildflowers. Stepping off the pavement next to Brisbane houses on the hill, I walked uphill toward the line of towers that extend from the summit toward the industrial park that fills a former marsh at the foot of an ancient shellmound.

I’d come in search of Johnny jump-ups, the sorely troubled bright little violas that provide the habitat for the endangered silverspot butterfly. Trinity Trail is itself “on the line” – emerging like a jaunty feather from the last street of houses on that part of the mountain. Monfresias – not a native, but very beautiful orange-red blossoms on long-leafed stalks – have escaped from gardens in the streets below, and volunteer along the edges of the path. The tiny blossoms of footsteps of spring hug the ground, walking the trail in front of me. A carpet of yellow oxalis is equally vibrant, all the more appreciated on this first really warm day of spring.

A recent political decision has made it possible for builders to continue a project on land which until last year provided a wide expanse of habitat for the viola that supports the butterfly. A domino effect of the disappearance of the habitat leading to the possibility of extinction of the silverspot has been a shock to many, and I wanted to be involved with the remaining plants – really see them closely, and be with something that may well disappear forever.

The panorama I faced when I saw the first of the violas was breathtaking; the hillside is covered with wildflowers of many varieties, – tall wild radish, pink checkerbloom and California poppies – and the violas are nestled among them as if the scene would continue to unfold forever. The sight was just what I wanted – the assurance that they are indeed here at this moment, and what I was seeing is something that my children or grand-children may never have an opportunity to see. How foolish it would have been to let this spring pass without coming to honor their presence, to enjoy what they can bring to humans through their beauty, and to the butterflies when it is their moment to visit.

The presence of wildflowers is so fleeting – unique assortments at many locations around the greenbelt because of terrain, weather,
and human involvement. And here, on this mountain which is the last remaining remnant of the Franciscan ecosystem, is a brief moment in time that will disappear – I hope because of changes the season brings, and not because of further destruction. In the meantime, I want to sit with them, look at them with a magnifying glass to see their intricate beauty and whether there are any insect inhabitants cruising their bright territory. I want to lie in the grass and dream, let my imagination flow into the wisdom they hold, their unique portion of the web of life.

The Chumash people say that human beings have 10 senses, but have lost the use of 5 of them related to imagination. Our civilization is changing, and there is still time in this moment to recognize that gift – to use the inspiration of the flower to encourage that nearly-atrophied capacity to function again.

Find the trail, coming from the winding Brisbane streets onto the mountain. Find a little yellow monkey-faced flower streaked brown. What memories does it evoke? How does it hold the difference that makes it so precious to the silverspot that its life depends on this variety, and only this? Is it something that can be seen, or is it deeper in its being? Enjoy the patchwork of blossoms dotting the emerald grasses, bees cruising from flower to flower, the transitory blend of damp earth and life in bloom. In a few weeks, join us exploring how the butterflies transform; we’re in the market for models, and they have much to teach us.

“Everything is blooming
most recklessly;
if it were voices instead of colors,
there would be an unbelievable shriek-
ing into the heart of the night”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke