I've been meaning to share this particular work from the MASKS OF THE GODDESS workshop in April at Kripalu - while I always am moved and astounded by the work others do, I found this work especially moving. Ilana has graciously allowed me to share photos of the masks she made, and sent me the poem she wrote in the workshop. I found it so profound......a message intimately hers, but a deeply transformative image for me as well, and others in the group.
We begin our three day process with a "shamanic journey" to the underworld, to encounter the Goddess, in whatever form she may care to appear, as we prepared to create our masks. Often I ask participants to see if she gives them a gift of some kind. Ilana is a doula and birth coach from New York City. She is a slight woman with intense eyes, and her hair is sparse because she's been through chemotherapy. One of the masks she made was "scarred", but contained a bright red, open heart.
Returning to the "above world", after our trance, Ilana told us she had met a Goddess all in white. She emerged from the darkness to dance before her. Her dance was like a figure 8, the "eternity symbol" - gestures of gathering on one side, and giving forth on the other, a flowing gesture of taking in and giving forth.
It happened that another of the participants was a professional dancer (a ballerina, actually).....in the course of the workshop she gave Ilana a white dress she had brought with her - it was Ilana's size. Above is the white mask she made, a basket on one side, and flowing forms on the other. She decided to put flowers on it after completing the mask. And here is the poem she wrote - I feel privileged to share it.
Gather towards the West
Gather towards the North
Gather towards the South
Gather towards the East
Gather Above, gather below and gather the great Mystery
Gather what you’ve studied
Gather what you’ve learned
Gather how you’ve lived, and gather what you’ve earned.
Gather what you’ve loved and gather what you’ve lost.
Gather what you’ve soiled and gather what it’s cost
Gather what you’ve wasted and gather what you’ve saved
Gather what you’ve shopped for and gather what you’ve tasted
Gather who your friends are and gather how they’ve cared
Gather your relations and gather how you’ve fared
Then Gather birth and celebrate, gather death and cry
Gather hope, regret and longing and gather up the why
Gather up the waiting, gather struggles, gather challenges.
Gather all the goals you’ve met and gather up the bravery
Gather faceless fear and all the broken promises.
Gather yesterday today, and gather time tomorrow
Gather what you’ve ruined and gather when you’ve failed.
Gather up the personal and gather up the frail
Gather up the culture and gather up the myths
Gather all the songs you’ve sung, and all expressive art
Gather dances gather dreams and gather up your heart
Gather in the garden and gather at the beach.
Gather on the mountain and gather what’s in reach
Gather in the workplace, and gather on the roads
Gather in the home you’ve made and gather all you kin
Gather your impatience, your frustration and your greed.
Gather up the words you’ve said and gather what you need.
Gather up your journey and all the time you’ve spent
Gather up your courage and walk inside your tent.
Gather up your secrets and and gather up your wisdom
Gather what you’ve forgotten
Gather what you’ve meant.
Gather faith and Reverence
Gather truth and and gather lies,
Gather secrets great and small
Gather wisdom of the ages and wrap them in your shawl
Gather sickness, Gather health gather tenderness and rage
Gather all your stories and gather on the stage
Gather up your gatherings, and stir the basket’s bounty
Gather all remaining threads and search across the county
Look out among the human beings, look out among relations
Then offer up your gatherings to all nations and creations
Offer to your children and offer to your kin
Offer to the hungry, to the needy and the grim
Offer to the blessed and offer to the prim
Offer to the kings and queens the princess and princesses
Offer to the beggars, paupers, jesters and priestesses
Offer to the little birds the chipmunks and the deer
Offer to the badger, mole, the frogs, and yes the bear
Offer to the green spring shoots, the white and yellow crocus
Offer to the budding trees the bushes and the rushes
Offer to the sand and mud the concrete and the buildings
Offer to the cook and maid the seamstress and the butler
Offer to the farmers - offer to the farm
Offer to the doctors and offer for no harm
Offer to the visionaries offer to the artists
Offer to the frightened, offer to the scared
Offer to the endangered and to the unprepared
Offer to the hurting, offer to be healed,
Offer to your neighbor and offer to the field
Offer grace and offer peace offer possibility
Offer privilege trust and faith
Offer gratitude amazement wonderment and awe
Offer loving kindness, compassion, joy and love
Offer up your story, offer honor and integrity
Offer for community Offer your vulnerability
Offer what you’ve learned and offer what you have
offer what you know
Offer what you’ve shared
Offer both your ears, your shoulders and your tears
Offer all you’ve gathered, offer all your cares
You’ve gathered through the springtime,
the summer and the fall.
And you’ve offered season’s greetings without going to the mall.
Now rest and build your strength up. Cycle with the moon. Cycle through the mystery time. Close your eyes and sleep. Dream the dreams of where you’ve been.
Dream of where you’re going – dream the dream that dreamers dream.
** I am sad to have to add that Ilana passed away 4 months after this workshop. But when I think of that, I think Goddess who came to her, and the poem she wrote, were all about leading the Way.