The Sisterhood of the Traveling Altar

ImageOn this New Moon I invoke the “ feminine archetype of The Mother in all her forms – Tara,  Atabex, Isis, Guadalupe, Ceres, Demeter, Mother Nature, Gaia, Pachamama. I ask them to  activate the wisdom of my emotional body, and provide me with the nurturance, support, and protection of my families, given and chosen and my homes all over the world.”

It has been one week since my Vona experience and on this day I remember one question that Staceyann asked me during our one on one session. She asked me why I was so angry at this sister hood I mention in my book that had no names attached to them? better yet why was I so sad, she inquired? Anger is sadness masked she said. You miss them? Have you ever put your anger to the side and called to let them know how much you miss them? Why do you miss them so much, what about that sisterhood do you miss and why can’t you just accept it as it is now? 

 In true DEE style with tears in my eyes I turned away and pretended I didn’t hear the question. I was so confused. Here I am at a beautiful opportunity to take recommendations from an extraordinary instructor towards my book and instead I am having a fucking healing circle I have had 100 times before about a goddman sisterhood that has been gone 5 years in the making. The best I could say was I thought I had forgiven, I thought I was complete, I thought I had moved on but I guess not cause here I am! 

In true spirit and ancestral style, the universe was not going to let me walk away from this yet again. For the next couple of days it crept into my bed and pleaded with me. The time is now, you have to complete, you must forgive for I have a new purpose for you but I cannot give you what you are not ready to receive. The words stuck in my throat and I chose once again to turn around and fall asleep drowning in my tears and dreaming of oceans and lands far away, where I could walk away and never look back. Once again I was back in the dark room of a brothel in the Dominican Republic waiting for my mother to come to save me! 

The NEW MOON is inviting me to to go back within her womb, where she will birth in me the strength necessary to go through the journey.  The universe has conspired with SUMMER to help me find my courage and power and let go of the fear of loosing what is already lost. So with a skip in my heart, tears stuck in my throat, I take the opportunity to answer Staceyann’s questions. I inhale love and exhale gratitude for the opportunity of healing, of  forgiveness, for the memories it stirred and for the possibilities it will create into my future.  

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Altar

If you would have asked me a year ago if I would ever be alone? or be on an island by myself, I would have said hell no, me alone, not in a hundred years. You see before she came into my life, I lived in community. With all its contradictions I still belonged to a family of women, a family that I had created.  They smelled like frankincense and myrrh and walked with back packs full of  herbs. A witches brew, that’s what we were, concocting on any given day,  magic.

Long white skirts gently picked up untold stories of  women all over the world. Wrapped heads served as lighting post on street corners guiding young women to safety.  Sea shells and cowrie shells adorned our feet  and hands making music the community could follow downstairs to our home.  Lighting candles and  building altars, we had traded our capitalist jobs to be spiritual workers.

The smell of agua florida greeted you at the door a sure sign that whatever you were carrying you would soon release. Ten women dressed in white throwing water away on the side walk hoping the water had cleansed their sisters spirit.  The smoke of the sage extended my sisters hands and embraced me like a mothers hug. I was home and these where my sisters. Latina, African, Taina, Indigenous islands, I got lost in their love. Together, we made caves we could hide and heal in, red clay, green earth changing with the seasons. Dancing naked in the rivers they where my journal entries. 

We committed to doing healing circles for women all the over the world, Chiapas, New Orleans, Cuba, Puerto Rico another world was possible and we were living into it.  We were  hungry for justice, hungry to forgive, and hungry to heal so we can accept the powerful women we are inspite of our past. We needed to be seen, we needed to be loved, we needed to heard, we needed validation that we existed, that we where not crazy ,we needed family cause ours had abandoned us and so we created from nothing sisterhood. 

 Tears creating rivers, screaming voices once lossed, punching pillows, imagining, reclaiming sacred bodies,  repairing war zones. White fabric dancing, laughter,  safe touch, hugs, community and affirmations. I miss my journals. I miss my sisters. I miss sisterhood.  The laughter, the celebrations of birth and the mourning of deaths, it all held me when i felt like I was breaking at the seams, they knocked on my door when I couldn’t get up, they cooked and prepared rituals when I lost faith, they reminded me of who I was when I was lost. They would turn to the page when I wanted to disconnect from my story and they made me look at those things that hurt the most. They where me and I was them and together we prayed for love lost and broken hearts, for little girls that where still in beds unknown searching for their mother.  

We call in the direction of the west , the fall, for the women that we are, may she let spirit guide her through transitions.  We call in the directions of the north, the winter,  for dreaming in the dark, may we face our fears with courage. We call in the direction of the East,  the spring, for our rebirth and the little girl within. We call in the direction of the South, for summer passions, the erotic , may the adolescent in us find her power. We call on mother earth and father sky and everything in between to hold us on this journey of healing.

For years we shared sacred space  an unbinding commitment to social justice, to ending violence in this lifetime. We must have repeated that prayer over 1000 times before we started anything,  a meeting, a workshop, a personal circle or cleaning our community space before an event. Altars for Haiti, peace doves for protest, healing circles for Palestine. Honey to seal collective grants we wrote, yellow candles for Oshun to manifest economic sustainability before a fundraising meeting, board meetings at the ocean, healing retreats and sweats for collective self care and organizational development.  We could spin energy in the courts to always manifest the verdict we wanted. The commitment was that no matter what happened, no one, not anyone of us will ever go hungry, we will never go back to self mutilation or violence in our lives. No one, not anyone of us would ever be alone again! 

 

We laughed, we played, we danced, we ate, we cried, we dreamed and we created memories.  And then it was gone! Just like that. Gradually perhaps, years in the making, but I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t see it coming, the way I didn’t see my mother leaving me either. 

Its crazy, I still cant believe it. I have made every excuse, created every possible reason but nothing will make me understand what happened.  Its like we needed that sisterhood to make up for all the shit we had been through, tight ass sisterhood for about 6 years. We were the model, the exception to the rule, look this is what you can create when you bridge spirituality and social justice. Together, we traveled back in time, our hearts created  a time capsule that took us back to Eygpt ,according to our mentor who said we had met there in another lifetime. We went back to slavery beating the master off our backs and killing rapist and child abusers that had taken shelter in our wombs. We became little girls and traveled to lands finding mothers, saying goodbye to dads, creating lovers and families other than the one we had. 

We where  teen sisters fighting for love and attention, creating identities of two spirits and gender queer. Loving in cars and pools under summer skies in the Dominican Republic. We left abusive relationships and found self love, we were, we were sisters. I didn’t have any. I was an only child that vowed no one was going to leave me again. But we grew up and some of us left never looking back and every time one of us left it was like tearing something from the soul of the group. Living the contradictions , this sisterhood stood in the borders of the safety we had created, the contradictions we lived and the possibility of what as out there now that we were empowered. And every time one of my sisters left  it was like I was being abandoned again. Over and over and over until it was my turn to leave and I couldn’t move. I was the last one to leave the house hoping for everyones return, blaming, judging, angry as hell. i was paralyzed, stuck in time, in quick sand keeping still cause if I moved i was going to go in deeper and no one would find me if they came back.

I was trapped in a prison I had created for myself dressed in white ,my room was disguised as an altar. The burning sage was a distraction so I couldn’t see the jury. The cowrie shells turned into cuffs being put on my wrists. I was on trial and my sisters white dresses started to fall and expose the stories untold and their wrapped heads held judgment. The journals that once kept my secrets now turned into pages of evidence that I wasn’t good enough to be their friend, to run an organization, to love, to exist.  The healing circles turned into competitions of who could do it better and the protest where no longer directed at the wars abroad instead the signs read, we no longer support you!

Latina, African, Taina, Indigenous islands being burned right in front of my face, ancestral wisdom buried in hate and cultura lost in ego. Spiritual workers turned soldiers, mentors turned dictators, healing caves turned into prisons and me a prisoner sentenced to life, doing time in my own home.  My bed was the  floor we had pounded away at our stories, where we had done rituals and created circles of light  to stop violence against women. My pillows where the stacks of papers documenting our journey of a world we thought was possible.  I curled up and slept, for years I slept to only wake up to see if this was a dream. 

Until one day I woke up on an island all by  myself.  A familiar place, green palm trees swayed in the wind, tiffany blue water stretching for miles and the sweet smell of coconut oil replaced the frankincense that once made me feel safe.  Three years had passed and I went to sleep at night and woke up in the morning still waiting. Asking myself why, what had I done?, why was I being punished?  When I was present enough to see where i was at, I threw  tantrums every chance I got, I was angry, I wanted things the way they where.  Where are my sisters and when are they coming back? It was in this place that the moon became my best friend. In the darkest hours of the night  her light  would hold me giving me strength to live and providing me warmth to melt the ice that had held my heart captive for so long.  She greeted me  and introduced herself as Luna. She said I come to you with the gift of  reflection. I am the NEW MOON, fertile with the possibility of your rebirth. i am your intuition and you are the only one that can release yourself from this prison. 

Today, I release myself as I was and all my sisters as they were and who I wanted them to be. I miss you all dearly. After many years, today, I  smell of Frankincense and Myrrh, reclaiming parts of me everyday. My altar stands in her red, yellow and orange best.  Cowrie shells and sea shells hold down the four corners of my life  a reminder of the spiritual foundation we planted in each others lives. With forgiveness in my  heart , sage clearing the past , honey on my tongue, a peak cock feather in my hair,  changed my white skirt  to a yellow sundress, dipped feet in florida water to move forward with courage and a gold mirror in my hand I see you and i see me, I remember you, I remember us, the sister hood of the traveling altar!  

 

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