2023 the year we learn to listen to life
Week 39--in which the Theatre of the Miraculous reveals her true colors
Friends, soul writers, mystics, witches, and lovers of prayer,
On this first day of October, a day that whispers a hint about the magic of the year to come, I'd like to tell you a story. A story about a most magical place.
It begins in the summer of 2020—that strange year of Covid and quarantine—when my publisher suddenly decided to prepare a new edition of Writing Down Your Soul. I thought it rather odd, but committed to support the new edition any way I could. The first thing the publisher asked for was new endorsements. I invited all the superb women mystics who had led prayer intensives with me that year. Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, who led an introduction to the Tree of Life, sent the first one. Her words changed my life. Her endorsement opened with:
“Janet Conner is a prayer artist, scholar, and 21st century witch.”
I had never called myself a witch, but Tirzah’s label landed in my body as truth—big, nonnegotiable, ecstatic truth. But my agent had a fit. She said I couldn’t let anyone call me a witch. So I fired her. And when I did, I made an astonishing discovery: I had leapt over the ugly black puddle that had blocked me in this lifetime and in countless previous lifetimes. For lifetimes, I had allowed people to silence me, to water down my words, to keep me “safe” by holding back my true self.
By firing my agent, I freed my voice. I am silent no more.
I carried this new calling as a mystic witch into my annual The Lotus and the Lily intensive that winter. In a silent walk on an 11-circuit finger labyrinth, I clearly heard “the return of the witches" at the center. I had no idea what that meant, but I knew it was mine to do. So I wrote those prophetic words on my 2021 mandala.
By February, I was in the early stages of creating an event unlike anything I’d ever offered. That June, I opened, The Return of the Witches, a 13-week pilgrimage in which we met 13 women accused and abused as witches from Queen Jezebel thrown out the window to wild dogs in Israel in 900 BCE, to Mary Turner lynched in Georgia in 1918, to Djamila Boupacha tortured by French soldiers in Algeria in 1960 for fighting for independence. You can track the map we followed at the pilgrimage page on my website.
The members of The Return of the Witches kept talking about the intense transformations they were experiencing. One after another, they awakened to sacred medicine they didn’t know they had. Many embraced new callings and careers. Others experienced dramatic transformations in their relationships.
I could tell the pilgrimage was a container for transformation, but I couldn’t get my finger on why this unusual event was so powerful.
On July 3, 2021, our virtual pilgrimage traveled to France to meet Marguerite Porete, author of The Mirror of Simple Souls, who was murdered in 1310 for heresy. Marguerite’s story bearer was Polly Paton-Brown in England. As Polly and I doublechecked her slides before the gathering began, I joked that I was “just the director.” I thought I was being cute.
But my inner self heard me and the next morning in deep soul writing I realized that I am not only the director, I’m also the producer.
In the Theatre of the Miraculous.
I was flabbergasted. I circled Theatre of the Miraculous on the page and stared off in space. For a long time. Because I knew, my whole body knew, this is who I am called to be. As with prayer artist and mystic witch, the only thing I could do was say YES.
So in deep soul writing I said yes, and spent the next two weeks asking my sacred feminine voice, Sophia, to show me what the Theatre of the Miraculous is and how I can structure events that open people to the kind of mystical transformations we experienced in the pilgrimage.
She taught me that miracles happen because the community itself forms a container in which the contained can do the work. Community, Container, Contained—these are the first elements She showed me that make miracles possible in the Theatre of the Miraculous.
The word miracle is a stumbling block for many.
Our patriarchal religions have indoctrinated us that miracles are rare and given only to holy individuals who deserve them. None of this is true.
- Miracles are natural and innate.
- They happen all the time.
- And they happen in communities.
- When we gather with the sacred desire to be a container for the Contained, miracles happen. All the miracles that happened in The Return of the Witches were proof of that.
Immediately, I began to work on language to try to describe this radically different way of coming together for a prayer intensive. I put the three C words on the landing page for my next live intensive which happened to be on deep soul writing. But I should have known there was more. With the Sacred Feminine, there’s always more.
In the final days before that intensive opened, She gave me a missing C—Conception. Conception is the miracle. Then what? After the conception, it’s our responsibility to bring that seed to life. So the 5th C is Conduit. You become the conduit for the miraculous to come alive in the world.
In my journal I wrote:
When our Community gathers
we become individual and collective mystical Containers for the Contained to be present, heard, seen, and felt
Unexpected miraculous Conceptions happen
and with those seeds, we receive
the guidance, grace, courage, and strength
we need to become a Conduit
to bring our unique and sacred medicine
into the world
That soul writing intensive in the Theatre of the Miraculous was, well, miraculous!
I’ve taught Writing Down Your Soul dozens of times since 2008, but that intensive was wilder and more magical than all of them combined. Many of the members had been in previous deep soul writing courses and they were as flabbergasted as I was by the magic that ensued when we dove into this mystical practice in the Theatre of the Miraculous.
So I committed to offering all my intensives in the Theatre of the Miraculous. I tried to find images that convey how magical meeting in the Theatre is. I started with a stage with red velvet curtains. It was sumptuous but not mystical. Then I started using pictures of old opera houses lit with the pale light of gas sconces. That felt more mysterious but still not ephemeral.
When Cathy Stevens Pratt and I began collaborating on the 7 prayer intensives in The Witch Sequence, I fell in love with how magically Cathy paints! Witness for example, this astonishing portrait of Mystica, the Oracle of the Threshold.
Just staring at Mystica, you can somehow see how it feels to drop into mystical theta and cross Rumi’s “round open door” into mystery.
So I asked Cathy if she’d like to paint the Theatre. I didn't give her any instructions. I know when I'm partnering with another mystic, that the best thing I can do is get out of the way.
But when Cathy sent this, my heart did a little dance. You can see it's a theatre, curtains and all, but it's not a physical space. And there's a lot of mystery. Where is this Theatre? Why those particular colors? What's that light on the floor? What's happening behind the curtains?
All questions with no answers.
I asked Cathy to add the magic words that describe our Theatre: community, container, contained, conception. And add a closing line that captures the sacred purpose of The Lotus and the Lily, which is to create the life that wants to be lived in the year to come.
Here it is. Notice how the light changes on the curtains. We have certainly left the 3-D world behind and entered the miraculous.
I am putting the finishing touches on the content for The Lotus and The Lily to harvest 2023 and plant seeds for 2024. We will gather in the Theatre of the Miraculous on Tuesdays from November 14 to December 12 and after 3 weeks off to enjoy the holidays and the Capricorn Solstice, we will reconvene on Sunday January 7 of the new year to sanctify the mandalas that hold the precious seed of the life that wants to be lived in 2024.
I hope to have the landing page ready for you to explore next Sunday, October 8.
Do visit it as soon as it's open because after 13 years The Lotus and the Lily still fills to overflowing.
Until then, may the miracle that is your life continue to unfold in magical mysterious ways,
PS: coming soon in the Theatre of the Miraculous:
- The Lotus and The Lily Harvest 2023-Seed 2024
- 7 x 7 special recorded intensive on the magic of the 7-circuit labyrinth
- 5th annual Winter Solstice Retreat
- Astrological and Numerological Forecast for 2024
- And next February-April, the 3rd intensive in The Witch Sequence on original prayer
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