2022 the year we learn to listen to love
Week 44--in which this witch has a few things to say about witches at Halloween
Friends, soul writers, mystics, witches, and lovers of prayer,
As a child, I hated Halloween. I hated dressing up. And I especially hated all the creepy witch costumes. I never dressed as a witch. But we had to dress as something to trick or treat. My mother had a chest of costumes in the basement. My usual choice was the skeleton. Or the tiger.
But never ever a witch.
Looking back at how much I loathed Halloween, I sense my 7-year-old self somehow knew that we must not make fun of witches. We must not perpetuate the stereotype of witches. We must not make them into caricatures.
I didn’t know it then, but I know it now: Witches weren’t really witches.
If by witch you mean a woman fornicating with the devil and following his bidding to do evil in the world. Which is the dictionary definition even today.
Those supposed witches were women, flesh and blood women. They were mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts. They were often post-menopausal, but also handicapped, demented, outspoken, or simply expendable. These women were accused in whispers, tossed into prison, tortured in sickening ways. And none of this was done in secret. These poor women were dragged into the public square to be water-tortured, burned, maimed, and murdered.
Who did this? Men of authority.
- Men of religious authority like John Knox founder of Presbyterianism, who wrote: “Women are the portal and the gate of the devil.” (The Witchcraft Act 1563).
- Men of legal authority like King James VI, who wrote Daemonologie (1597) and called witchcraft “high treason against God.”
- Men who prided themselves on their superior god-given reason and power.
- Men who declared that “All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman. All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable. (Malleus Maleficarum 1486).
- Their screeds were bestsellers! They taught fellow religious fanatics how to find and recognize a witch, and extract her confession—through torture of course.
And it was all legal.
Legal in the eyes of the catholic and protestant churches battling to prove who hated the devil more. Legal in the eyes of the crown, the earl, the lord, the mayor, all the way down to a crazed husband or rejected suitor. And the whole culture bought into it. Even Shakespeare, who wrote the scene in Macbeth with the three haggy witches complete with chants and cauldron to please King James.
Mind you, I didn’t know any of this when I was seven. But my gut knew. And now, at 74, now that I know the history of what was done to women in the name of “witch,” I can’t bear to see a little girl dressed as an old hag with a warty nose and green skin.
If one comes to my door tomorrow, I will fawn over her beauty and wisdom and praise her for recognizing her gifts.
Because the original pre-patriarchal root meaning of the word witch in all languages is: a woman expressing her abundant feminine sacramental gifts.
Why does this matter so much? Why am I so hyper-sensitive to this one word? Because WITCH was given to me. She came to me and for me.
On August 2, 2020 (in that strange year of Covid and quarantine) I received an endorsement from Rabbi Tirzah Firestone that opened: “Janet Conner is a prayer artist, scholar, and 21st century witch.”
The word witch landed deep in my belly, cracked my whole life open, and is now, along with prayer artist, the heartbeat of my life. Everything I do, every word I write, and every intensive I create are all fruits of these two holy words that patriarchy has denigrated for millennia: prayer and witch.
Witch may have arrived in August that year, but she didn’t take root until November. The Lotus and the Lily prayer intensive that year was the perfect incubator.
Since The Lotus and the Lily began in 2010, we’ve spent one week looking back. But 2020 with all its chaos seemed to be calling for two weeks of looking back. So I got together with depth numerologist and elemental astrologer Emma Kupu Mitchell and she agreed. We decided that in the first week we would look back just at 2020, seeking all its underlying meaning, and then in the second week, we would look back further to find clues to the patterns that revealed themselves in 2020.
I thought it was a great idea, but how?
How could we discover the meaning of 2020 and beyond? In perfect timing, Emma had been certified that summer as a labyrinth facilitator. In the course of her training, she was invited to participate in an experiment to finger-walk a 5-circuit paper labyrinth listening for messages from the first five months of 2020. She said it was powerful.
I was game. And I knew everyone in Lotus and Lily would be too.
So in the first gathering, Emma showed us how to gather information from calendars and other reminders of what happened in January, make a list, write highlights from that list on a simple paper labyrinth, then “walk” the labyrinth whispering aloud all that happened.
We did this together in community to get a feel for it. When we reached the center, Emma encouraged us to sit in the silence and listen. She said we didn’t have to do anything; January would reveal her message, her meaning, her song.
We were surprised but we all heard something. Or saw something. Or felt something. January spoke and we listened. For the rest of that week Emma encouraged us to listen to February through November and jot down the song or message from those months on the 11-circuit classical medieval Chartres Cathedral labyrinth.
Now I know a wee bit about this labyrinth. I’ve had profound mystical experiences walking physical labyrinths in Iowa, Florida, and North Carolina. I feel so strongly about the labyrinth as a threshold portal that I structured my 7th book, Find Your Soul’s Purpose, as a walk on a 7-loop labyrinth that pierces that threshold so completely that you exit this dimension and enter the pre-physical where you remember your purpose and the gifts and struggles you brought here to help you embody that purpose.
Despite my experiences with the labyrinth, I wasn’t sure what would happen when we gathered as a community in the second week to listen for the overall song of 2020. It was the first time Emma and I had done this. As far as we knew, it was the first time anyone had done anything like it.
I brought my paper labyrinth with the song-messages of January through November written on the paths starting with January. But I had no expectations. How could I? We’d never done this before.
We began with a prayer, then slowly, in the silence, each of us muted, walked the 11-circuit labyrinth speaking aloud the song of January, the song of February, and so on, letting the words land on our skin and wrap us in their embrace.
Something happened as we said the 11 months aloud. Without realizing it, we began to hear a pattern, like dance steps. At the center, we sat in silence. We posed no questions, made no requests, held no intention. We just sat in the silence waiting for 2020 to sing us her song. Our song. Our song of 2020.
And she did! At the center I didn’t hear anything at first, and then a clear whisper: “My witch has come.”
Well, yes, she had! That was the perfect song for me of 2020. We shared our songs and everyone’s was different. Everyone’s was unique. And everyone’s was perfect.
That was just the first gift of The Lotus and the Lily that year. It was quite the incubator.
- As November was ending, I received my personal flavor of witch-ness: mystic witch.
- But the wildest magic happened when a small group gathered for a UK/Europe watch party.
- As we were saying hello, a woman in England started talking about a past life memory in Scotland when her husband, caught up in the witch craze frenzy, strangled her.
- When she finished, a woman in Ireland who was off camera started shouting, “I can’t believe you’re talking about witches! I just got a box of documents from my husband's family in Germany and they had two generations of women murdered as witches!”
As she spoke, I could feel the tendril roots of my nascent mystic witch burrowing into the ground creating a foundation for the life I’m here to live.
That Irish voice was Suzi von Mensenkampff, whose German family history became central to The Return of the Witches pilgrimage in 2021 and helped me create, along with Emma Kupu Mitchell, Re-membering the Songlines of the Witches mystery school this year.
And to think it all began in a Lotus and Lily UK watch party.
I’ve always loved The Lotus and the Lily prayer intensive. And I know you do too, because you fill it to overflowing every year. And because this is a living intensive, a living community, each year always brings something new. Each year is a deeper mystical experiment.
In The Lotus and the Lily to complete 2022 and create 2023, we will gather on Monday, Nov 14 at 7pm eastern to begin looking back at 2022.
That’s a momentous date, just one week after the US elections which everyone anticipates will be filled with chaos. But that election isn’t happening in isolation; the whole world is in a state of upheaval with war, financial fears, inflation, resurgence of fascism and antisemitism, a third year of Covid, ramifications of unaddressed and unabated climate change, and political chaos everywhere.
I don’t offer that list to frighten you. If you’re awake, you’re already frightened. I offer it to reassure you that you are not crazy. And you’re not alone.
This year, we need prayer, labyrinth walks, silence, astrological insights, and the loving presence of one another more than ever.
Here are a few things you can look forward to:
- Marcia Wade is coming as our special cos-mythologist guest to help us navigate the celestial upheavals coming to a head in November and ushering us into a volatile next 9 months
- Emma Kupu with help us welcome the sacred seven numerology into our lives in 2023
- Emma will lead us on labyrinth walks to hear the song of the past and the song of the year to come
- To help us look back further, Emma and Marcia are going to teach us how to look back at the evocative 18.6 year eclipse cycles to see the pattern unfolding in our entire life
- I received a sweet and surprisingly simple anointing that feels like just the medicine for this moment
- Emma and I re-structured our gatherings so we can have focused break-out sessions every time—people really loved the one we did last year at our closing celebration and asked for more
- And—the icing on this cake—we get to make a mystical mandala. The mandala always takes us into deeper and more magical territory
- But this year we're going to experience not just inter-being, but inter-becoming
It’s not an accident that this is the 13th
The Lotus and the Lily!
13 is Her number.
13 is the number patriarchy is so afraid of they won’t name it or paint it on an elevator.
13 is the number of Her return.
So I know this 13th gathering of The Lotus and The Lily is going to be special.
I know it’s going to change my life.
And I know it's going to change yours.
We gather in the Theatre of the Miraculous for this truly miraculous intensive for five Mondays from 7-9:15pm Eastern: November 14, 21, 28, December 5, 12.
We also have a UK/EU Watch Party on Wednesdays at 7pm UK/ 8pm EU on November 16, 23, 30, December 7, 14.
Everything is recorded if either of those times don't fit your schedule.
After that we take3 weeks off so you can relish Winter Solstice and any holidays you celebrate—in whatever way you celebrate them. (You don’t have to be quite as austere as I am.)
We meet again on Sunday, January 8 at 2pm Eastern to share and celebrate and bless our mandalas. It's a joy-filled mystical party of the highest order!
Come and play in the mystical magical waters of The Lotus and The Lily. It will completely transform your understanding of "manifestation."
to listening to 2022 sing her song and 2023 welcome us into the fullness of the life that wants to be lived
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