2023 the year we learn to listen to life
Week 15--in which we ponder our final ten feet
Friends, soul writers, mystics, witches, and lovers of prayer,
This weekend is probably the most intense of the entire year for me. I’ve spent the last week with my collaborators in Ireland, England, Hawaii, and New Mexico creating the final dark moon ceremony for the year-long mystery school, Re-membering the Songlines of the Witches.
It seems just yesterday that Suzi von Mensenkampff in Ireland and Emma Kupu Mitchell in Hawaii, and I began to create this radical mystery school. But our first meeting was actually January 14 of last year. We met because Suzi had a bizarre visitation by Joan of Arc while in meditation.
Welcome to my world where we receive sacred messages from sacred messengers.
And listen. And follow. That’s the source of all my prayer intensives. And why I have to tell a pretty wild story at the beginning of each one. These are not “the Janet show.”
This is not the self-help world we’ve lived in for so long, looking for ways to improve our lives. This is a new world in which we ask, not how the divine can serve us, how we can serve Her return. Her return in and through and as us in a world we want to live in. A world shed of patriarchal lies. A world I call Her Garden of Reverence.
Songlines has absorbed my life every day since Joan rode into Suzi’s meditation. After 5 months of intense creative collaboration, I opened Songlines on the Summer Solstice last June. Since then, we’ve held 10 dark moon ceremonies to meet ten radically different witches, some from thousands of years ago, some whose lifespans crossed our own. We’ve meet witches from Germany, Scotland, Hawaii, Mexico, and New York. And we’ve blown the label off the word “witch.” Why, we’ve received seed medicines from angel witches, Earth witches, and the Divine Feminine Herself. It has been the exploration of a lifetime.
And today, Saturday, April 15, we met the 11th and final witch. The Witches of Belvoir Castle. The ceremony was intense. The most intense of all. It doesn't seem possible, but these obscure women—a servant mother and her two daughters, falsely accused of murdering a duke’s young sons, and hung as witches in 1619—have quite the story. A story that links back in time all the way to Boudica’s final battle in 61 CE to King John and Sherwood Forest in the 1200’s, and into the present day where their “curse” lives in the land.
Oh, there’s a curse alright. But it’s not from their mouths.
It’s the cry of the earth soaking in all the blood shed in battles, wars, betrayals, and murders. And that cry is universal, isn’t it. Almost all the land of this precious planet holds the blood of battles. Of destruction of forests. Of extinction of species. Of genocide of peoples. Of slaves. And of countless women unable to live lives of grace and dignity.
Learning the truth about the curse today was a shock. A holy shock. But a shock nonetheless.
And if that wasn’t quite enough for one weekend, tomorrow, Sunday, is the 2nd gathering in The A.R.T. of Becoming a Witch where we will learn how to hear what our ears do not hear. Silent Listening. And I bet you know who’s a silent listener! Emma Kupu, who hears the plants, flowers, and trees is a teacher. Cathy Pratt who hears Black Moon Lilith and Archangel Michael is a teacher. And me, of course. Of all the intuitive senses, my numero uno is hearing.
Sometimes I hear whispers that sure feel and sound like “someone” next to me. Only no one is there.
Sometimes I hear entire sentences inside my body. In the gathering today, I’ll tell the story of hearing ice age cave rocks speak to me in 2012, planting the most profound thing I’ve ever heard—or ever will hear—directly in my thymus. Bet you didn’t know your thymus could hear. I’ve also heard at the base of my neck. And of course, I hear every day in deep soul writing, and all night, and every morning in that delicious liminal state before rising.
I’m just a tad excited about Sunday’s gathering for Silent Listening. (You can join A.R.T. through the link at the bottom of this letter.)
As I said, this is “the most intense weekend of the year,” and yet I have to write a newsletter. You expect to see me in your inbox on Sunday and I promise I’ll be here. (Except for that weird experience last summer when Hurricane Ian conspired with my computer to kill my hard drive and give me a strange and glorious 9-day prayer vacation.)
So here I am typing away at a newsletter. As of last night, I had no idea what I’d say. Now, I know I will be guided. I know that. Every newsletter you read is the result of middle-of-the-night whispers. Or downloads in soul writing. Or words on a page leaping up to knock on my heart.
And that’s exactly what happened.
I opened The Moon by Whale Light, by the incomparable nature writer, Diane Ackerman, and reread my favorite chapter on whales.
I wanted to spend time with the whales because the whales are our real teachers on silent listening. Did you know that a whale singing at one end of the Pacific Ocean, can be heard by another whale at the other. And their songs are fresh each year, last for sixteen minutes, and repeat and repeat and repeat, with nuances and accents each time. And one whale can recognize another whale by the way they sing that year’s song.
Whales are astonishing.
So there I was in the tub, rereading about whales, and I stumbled upon exactly what I want to tell you today.
In the book Diane Ackerman is in Antarctica exploring whales under the guidance of Roger Payne, who has studied the behavior of whales since 1967. It was Roger who discovered that humpback whales make complex rhythmic vocalizations that meet the definition of song. He showed that blue whales were audible across entire oceans. And is famous for his recordings of humpback whales.
“At sunset, Roger and I sat on the jawbone bench on the porch of the main house and watched the horizon’s simmering cauldron of red. Enthralled by Doug’s account of swimming close to whales, I was puzzled by how few of the people in camp had been tempted to do the same.
‘It’s those last ten feet,’ Roget said, leaning against the wall that had grown warm from he late-afternoon sun. ‘That’s where most people find their nerve breaks down.’
‘But that’s what life’s all about,’ I said. ‘That’s where you find all the intimate details. How awful it would feel, at the end of your life, to look back and know that if you had just stayed in there a few more feet, you would have witnessed something truly astonishing.’
Roger nodded. He had spent his life walking the narrow corridor between the whale’s world and the human world. ‘I think you can know people quite well by the distance at which they drop back. Think how many miles all the people here had to fly, how many hardships they had to endure, how many hours they had to wait, how many people they had to deal with, just to get down here. It’s like that every year. Some people drop out before they ever leave the States. Some are fine doing research on the shore. Some can even tough it out on the boats, but they panic at the thought of being in the water with whales. Some can get into the water and watch at a distance—but the last ten feet horrify them. Despite all the rigors and turmoil they’ve gone through to get here, despite their fascination with whales, which they spend their lives studying, they just can’t face those last few feet. I don’t think this is limited to whales. It has to do with the way a person needs to know life.’”
I stopped reading. Stared at the wall. And realized that this concept—the last ten feet—is the richest gift I could give you today. And the heart and soul of my own fascination with witches.
Witch arrived in 2020. And I followed a bit. Then a bit more.
- Then I created The Return of the Witches Pilgrimage in 2021.
- And Re-membering the Songlines of the Witches in 2022.
- And The A.R.T of Becoming a Witch, which just opened at the end of March.
- Each one going deeper and deeper into the stories of witches. From meeting them in the pilgrimage, to receiving their medicines in Songlines to learning how to become a witch in A.R.T.
With each passing intensive, I (and everyone in my intensives) come closer and closer to the truth of the witch—not just what was done to women labeled witches, but the truth of what it means to be a witch. To honor that ancient title. To cherish and express those sacred sacramental gifts. To be the witch we came here to be.
When I looked for Roger Payne online just now, I found that in 2021 he resigned his presidency of Ocean Alliance to dedicate the remaining years of his life to his sacred calling. His last ten feet.
“It is now time for my fellow scientists and me to acknowledge the bitter truth of something we all recognize right down to our bones: that the time has come… is upon us… is all over us… is shouting at us from every quarter, telling us to set aside our security, our dreams, and to spend every waking moment of our lives working like the hammers of hell—working to change all human behaviors that are contributing to the destruction of life, and to change them right down to their deepest roots.
There is nothing more important that any of us can do than to rise in protest against the nonsensical belief that no matter how serious our mistakes, we can engineer our way out of them. The ‘invincibility’ of the human future is a fatal fantasy, and unless we act in protest and with all our energy, in everything we do or say or act or depict of write or sign or create… life on earth will have no future; we will have no future; our children will have no future; other complex life forms will have no future; and our fatal ignorance will knock life on this beautiful planet back to something resembling the earliest multicellular forms from the Precambrian era. Or worse.
The age of innocence is over. The age of action is here. It is time to focus our attention on doing what really matters.”
Roger is clear about his final ten feet. I feel called too, by Roger, by the whales, by the witches to go my final ten feet.
For me that’s redefining witch, restoring it to a label of honor, and doing everything in my power to create Her Garden of Reverence.
My gift to you this precious Sunday morning is a series of questions:
- What really matters to me?
- What commitment am I called to make?
- What curses are mine to heal?
- What is my final ten feet?
- What do I need to do or know or imagine in order to take my first steps in my final ten feet?
to walking in faith and love those final ten feet and discovering we are not alone
PS: Want to learn Silent Listening? Join The A.R.T. of Becoming a Witch: How to Awaken, Remember, and Trust Your Body's Natural Intuitive Senses
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