Your dead are calling. Do you know how to listen?
The Year of the Body: Week 4
in which our bodies exhale, our hearts celebrate, and our prayers resuscitate the dead
Friends, soul writers, lovers of prayer,
And we thought 2020 was intense. Ha!
In just three Wednesdays, we’ve reeled from watching a live insurrection on TV, to applauding the second impeachment of a vain and traitorous president, to celebrating an inauguration like no other.
No wonder our bodies are reeling.
The body is the last to release the invisible yet tangible fingerprints of fear, trauma, grief, abuse, and shock. That trauma is held in your muscles, your organs, your sinews.
And until the body is healed—not placated or ignored or glossed over, but healed in all her deep silent places, we cannot experience real calm. Real rest. Real sleep. Real health.
Of course, I had no way of knowing what would happen this January. Not intellectually anyway.
But I think my body knew.
Because last November and December, as I planned my prayer intensives for 2021, I thought it odd that I wasn’t planning anything for January.
For 11 years, I’ve kicked off each new year with a January event. It’s always something radical, powerful, and deep. Last January, it was The Radical Path of Love Hidden in the Theta Brain Wave State. I couldn’t know that a pandemic was on the way, but that intensive turned out to be the perfect first layer in a year of radical prayer.
Everything that happened in 2020 built on how we learned in that intensive to open our theta eyes to see how alive the world really is, and open our theta ears to hear that everything is alive and conscious and talking.
But nothing seemed to be asking to be this January's intensive.
I didn’t know why my January calendar had to be empty, but I know enough now to listen to my body when she says Stop. Sit. Listen.
And that’s what I’ve done for these 24 days. I have managed to write a Sunday Notes from the Field. And I managed to host the first dark moon for Mother Moon Yoga. But that’s it.
And you know what, it’s been a most profound and mysterious month of silence.
Every morning, after I anoint and make coffee, I nestle into my favorite chair and start reading and soul writing. I have plenty of company: three dozen books on the witches who want to be included in The Return of the Witches novena coming this summer are piled around the living room.
My focus throughout January has been and continues to be Jeanne d’Arc. Does it surprise you that her name was not Joan? The correct French spelling is Jeanne and her family called her Jeannette. When I learned that, I changed the subtitle of the novena to: A Jeanne d’Arc Listening Novena.
Note the word listening.
As I sat in silence these four weeks, I kept hearing unexpected bits of direction and guidance.
A big one—possibly the biggest—is that the novena will have three parts:
- Pray for and with 13 witches who represent patriarchal abuse around the globe since the dawn of the first patriarchal religions
- Listen to the witches tell their stories and whisper wisdom
- Release their oppressors from millennia-long chains of patriarchal control and abuse with the sharp sword of the ancient sacred prayer of forgiveness in the arms of the Goddess, Ho‘oponopono
Slowly, I realized there had to be 13 witches. Hence, there will be 13 beads on a short novena rosary called a chaplet.
Slowly, I realized Jeanne wasn’t just one of the witches but intends to lead the way. So the chaplet will begin with a Jeanne d’Arc medallion.
Slowly, I realized the witches want to speak for themselves, and the best way to hear them is to hold a hag stone or witches’ stone in your fingers. A hag stone, if you didn’t know, is a small stone with a naturally occurring hole in the middle created by wave action. Cultures around the world consider them magical. And so, our chaplet will end with a hag stone.
All of that was slowly revealing itself until January 6, Jeanne’s birthday.
I watched in horror as my country was attacked by insurrectionists.
Having Jeanne close at hand helped. Her country had been attacked for a hundred years.
Then came January 13, impeachment. And with it a bit of hope that the country might right itself like a sailboat that had been swamped but not sunk.
Then, on January 20 came the inauguration. Like you, I watched it with a sense of trepidation. Would everyone be safe? Never mind the pandemic, would everyone even live through it.
I had to watch.
And watch, I did.
And cry, I did.
And pray, I did.
And hope, I did.
As it was ending, I posted this on my personal page on Facebook. Over 400 people responded and 108 commented. So I touched something:
"I think I can stop crying now. My Goddess but that was such a glorious celebration of America. And Amanda Gorman, the new poet-in-charge! Lady Gaga gathering all Little Monsters under one flag, J Lo calling us in Spanish, the hymns, the prayers, the silent memorial. I was crying intermittently throughout, until the Pledge of Allegiance in sign language, then I lost it completely. The difference in message from four years ago is stark. Can the "uncivil wars" end? Only when justice prevails. Or as Amanda Gorman said, Just Us. Hope is rekindled. And now perhaps I can sleep through the night."
I trust you saw Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet who read “The Hill We Climb.” Not sure how, but she outshone even Lady Gaga.
The next day I watched her interview with Anderson Cooper. Now, the fact that it was on CNN matters. At least to me. You might not know, but my husband was the first director of field operations at CNN and I created the video journalist hiring program. The news—real news—matters to me.
In the interview, Anderson asks Amanda if she’d share her personal mantra, a little prayer she says to herself before she speaks. She did. And we should all be so grateful!
"I am the daughter of Black writers.
We are descended from freedom fighters who broke their chains and changed the world.
They call me.”
I stared dumbstruck at the screen. Her words flew through the ethers, landed on my chest, and cracked my body open.
Oh! Oh! Oh! This is prayer! Holy, rocking, miracle-inducing prayer!
I want—no, I need—my personal mantra. I too, have ancestors who call me and I want to acknowledge them. And work with them. Today and every day.
Immediately I turned to the page in soul writing and words came. But my body said be still, it’s not done yet. And sure enough, that night, I received three beautiful edits. On Friday afternoon, I typed it up.
And today, just an hour ago, I spoke it aloud for the first time with the most important person in my life, my son. When the prayer ended, he said nothing for a long moment and then he exhaled—an endless exhale. “Mom,” he finally said, in a soft almost holy voice, “That. Is. Powerful.”
And I knew that these words are my personal prayer.
Like Amanda, I will now say this mantra-prayer all the time. First thing in the morning, last thing at night. I said it before I started writing this Notes from the Field. I’ll say it when I go for my evening rosary walk.
This is my prayer. And if it weren’t for a 22-year-old poet at the inauguration of a new president, I would never have found it.
I offer my Mystic Witch Mantra to you not to copy, but to inspire.
This is my prayer. It rose from deep tissues that hold deep knowing and deep pain. Tissues that feel thousands of years of abuse thrown at the sacred title of witch.
It rose from the voices of my dead.
Some are blood ancestors. But most rise from my mystical lineage.
- It is they who are calling me to create The Return of the Witches.
- It is they inviting you to learn how to listen to your own dead in Take Back the Magic, Take Back the Dead.
- It is they reminding me that my soul family roots are long and deep and ancient.
- It is they teaching me to be unafraid.
- They who have been guiding me by the hand throughout 2020 as I picked up a goddess rosary, fell in love with the 5 Original Prayers, and said yes to taking my first class about working with the dead with Perdita Finn.
- It is they who whispered mystic witch.
- It is they who fill my reading table.
It was they who held me still and quiet this first month of 2021 so I could hear their voices.
And it is they who woke me last night to give me permission to put this intimate prayer in a public newsletter, so you might begin to ponder who is calling you.
Mystic Witch Mantra
I am a daughter in an old and sacred family of mystic witches,
a column of saints praying in the threshold between worlds.
They call; I listen.
I call; they come.
Listen, your dead are speaking to you now. They have always been speaking to you, you just didn't know how to sense their presence or listen to their voices.
You just didn't know how to call them.
But now you can learn.
Join Perdita Finn and me in the first prayer intensive for 2021: Take Back the Magic, Take Back the Dead
We open Tuesday, Feb 2 at 7pm and meet for 3 Tuesdays, followed by a mystical celebration on Sunday, Feb 21 at 2pm. (I alternate the times so you can attend some live events no matter where you are in the world.)
Everything is recorded so don't be concerned about not being able to be live on the calls.
All the details, schedule, registration, and more on this intensive page.
I'll send the first welcome email and open our private Facebook group next week.
Take Back the Magic Take Back the Dead
to the magic and wonder and sheer joy of knowing our dead are loving us into the fullness of who we came here to be