Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 31 Oct 01 15:34
Our next guest, Francesca De Grandis, has been a grass-roots spiritual activist for nearly two decades. She was born into a family of what she dubs "blue collar eccentrics." Religious oral tradition and the oral literature of disenfranchised groups are strong influences on her writing. She considers the prayers and other liturgy in her books, as well as her prose, all poetry. She tries to write in a way that honors common language as *sacred* poetry. She says, "I want my poems to provide spiritual practices that make a practical difference, and to be like women's handmade baskets that carry food, passion and personal victories that mirror universal experiences. Gorgeous baskets/poems/prose that can actually carry water or be used to rock a child to sleep." De Grandis' book, Goddess Initiation : A Practical Celtic Program for Soul-Healing, Self-Fulfillment and Wild Wisdom (HarperSanFrancisco) is based in material that has helped Francescas students and clients with everything from creating great sex, to conquering depression, to effectively parenting to finding personal happiness. It is a book that can help you discover what is meaningful to you personally and on a larger scale, and act on your insights. De Grandiss first book, Be a Goddess!, is already a classic in its genre. Leading the discussion is Sherry Thrash, who recently celebrated her 6th anniversary as a member of The Well. She currently hosts the quiet little conference *not* known as POW - Pagan.ind. She has officially been a practicing solitary Witch for almost 20 years. She now seeks a communion, on a daily basis, with the source of all life, and recognizes that source as Goddess. Please join me in welcoming Francesca and Sherry to inkwell.vue!
Sherry Thrash (izzie) Thu 1 Nov 01 11:34
<scribbled by izzie Thu 1 Nov 01 11:40>
Sherry Thrash (izzie) Thu 1 Nov 01 11:41
(the above post was scribbled due to a needed pseudonym change) Welcome, Francesca! I wanted to start out by asking you about what first really popped out at me in _Goddess Initiation_.... You state that shamanic training can be for anyone, including Christians (and I'm assuming other monotheists as well). I can understand that, but I'm thinking that some folks would disagree - and some even strongly so. Can you elaborate on how a practicing Christian could incorporate your path into her everyday life and faith?
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Thu 1 Nov 01 14:37
I was raised Catholic, by a witch! Mom was a talented psychic. People who are practical and/or ardent in their spiritual quest don't organize everything according to little tiny boxes, labeled Orthodox, Thus Okayed for Usage and Unorthodox, Thus Not To Be Used. :-) Smart people use what ever is going to help them be happy, be moral and make a difference in the world. For example, one client came to me because she loved Jesus but felt frustrated in her relationship with Him. In ritual with me she realized she wanted to be in her church choir. In other words, she realized when we worked together that spirituality expressed through music was a more meaningful way to practice Christianity for her. Then, through more rituals, she also gained the inner resources to, in fact, join the choir.
Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Thu 1 Nov 01 15:21
Hi there, Francesca! I haven't seen the book yet, so please pardon if this is addressed therein, but I was wondering about connections between this and some of your previous work, I'm particularly thinking of some of what I recall you having to say to children and other young spirits (e.g. some of the material on your CD "Apple").
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Thu 1 Nov 01 15:50
Bob, what a nice surprise that youre joining us! Great! I see each of my books, as well as my music album that you refer to -- Pick the Apple From the Tree, -- as standing on their own, whole unto themselves, accessible to novices yet useful for advanced practitioners. But I also see each of my works as part of a body of material that I produce. On one hand, Goddess Initiation stands on its own, as sound lessons in magic, a thorough shamanic training, a shamanic journey into the world of mystical power, and a self-help program to help you live life according to your own definitions and personal meanings. In fact, the book is a lot of other things, too: it took 13 years to develop the material on which it is based, and the manuscript before the publisher typeset it was between maybe 420-470 pages. For shamanism to be really helpful, it has to touch many of our needs. Humans are complex beings, and spirituality has many dimensions. On the other hand, my various projects works together. For example, you mention Pick the Apple.. In its song, Nimue, (She is a child aspect of the Goddess), which I wrote for adults, but found that many children listen to, I wrote Nimue, teach me to dance like a child wicked and pure, proud and sure. We need to be like children if we are going to find God(dess) within us and see God(ess) mirrored in others. When we recognize that deity in all things, we come to honor all living beings. But we need as many ways to find that deity as possible. So each of my books helps further that process. But finding the god(dess) within is just one example. Bottom line, I think my books help readers create miracles in their lives and in the world we live in (No false modesty there!) But we need as many miracles as possible in this world, so Ill keep writing books.
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Thu 1 Nov 01 23:35
Oops! Let me correct something above: I think that *any* *one* of my books on its own helps readers create huge miracles but since we all need many many miracles, Ill keep writing books. Good grief, I sound so arrogant. But it is not me writing these books, it is the Goddess.
Lena M. Diethelm (lendie) Fri 2 Nov 01 15:32
Do you know a Kathleen Brown? If so, I think I know you from another life. :)
Rip Van Winkle (keta) Fri 2 Nov 01 15:43
Hi Francesca, I'm not familiar with your work, but I'm looking forward to changing that! You said: >I wrote Nimue, teach me to dance like a child wicked and pure, proud and sure. We need to be like children if we are going to find God(dess) within us and see God(ess) mirrored in others. When we recognize that deity in all things, we come to honor all living beings. That put me in mind of the huge, pure, unsocialized *rage* that children can express. In young children it is sometimes extravagant and beautiful to behold, and then in older children, we are often just plain terrified. We make efforts to thwart, channel, direct, but it seems to me we don't often just listen and appreciate, probably because we don't quite know why we would want to do so, or what we would listen for. One aspect of the Goddess is outraged! wrathful! fierce! -- what do you suggest to parents encountering this energy, looking for a way to appreciate and understand it, while at the same time raising a healthy child?
Sherry Thrash (izzie) Fri 2 Nov 01 17:55
keta, that's a great question! Francesca, how do you translate your path for children?
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Fri 2 Nov 01 20:31
Lena, hi! Yes, Kathleen is a dear friend of mine. We go way back. How great that you and I have that connection! Rip, I love what you said. (I always think someone is brilliant if they view things the same way I do. <grin>) How to honor your childs anger? I would suggest you listen: affirm their right to their feelings by listening; only after youve done that can you analyze, correct, or otherwise try to help them process the anger, without it seeming an invalidation. One might also affirm through a hug while the young one is ranting, or by nodding and saying Uh huh, yes, I know what you mean. Also, make boundaries. Dont let children hurt others in anger; when a child is allowed to act mean because he or she is angry, they feel bad about themselves, and dont learn the healthy part of anger. Sherry, to answer your question: with adults I focus on practice rather than theory. Spiritual practice is what helps us be happy and grow. It is the same with children. Give them something constructive to do instead of preaching. Also, I often teach my classes by modeling shamanic behavior. For example, a shamans magic comes about in part because she (or he) is so tuned into the present that she can really use, affirm, celebrate and perhaps shift the unique energy that each moment offers. So when I teach, I try to go with the flow doing what I can to embody that principle, thus teaching by example. In the same vein, a parent can teach a child Goddess Spirituality by modeling it: recycling; supporting diversity; respecting wildlife; making prayers that are honest and perhaps joyful, instead of prayers that are shame-based or fearful.
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Sat 3 Nov 01 08:53
I find it interesting that the questions so far have been about children, since my work is mostly with adults. Is it simply that the first question was about young-uns and that set a tone? Or are we all parents? Or is it just that we are all children at heart? :-) Someone once looked at my classroom and thought I taught kindergarten! But the Goddess, being a *pagan* deity, wants us to have fun and find fulfillment in our work. So I try to embody that in my presentations and I guess that affects the way my classroom looks sometimes. I do silly things at book signings to get people to laff. I did a book signing a few days ago in this fabulous bookstore -- Staceys in San Francisco. And, mind you, this is a three-story, mainstream store, I sprinkled Faerie dust on everyone. We laughed very hard! Spirituality and fun should go hand in hand. Besides, a bit of sacred tomfoolery opens our hearts to the possibility of change, opens us to hope, opens us to god(dess).
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 3 Nov 01 09:38
Boy, I can relate to that. Some of us get in trouble occasionally because we're still kids, even in middle-age, and know it, and act it. <grin>
Sherry Thrash (izzie) Sat 3 Nov 01 09:58
Francesca, since we're not quite discussing _Goddess Initiation_ yet (and we will be - I assure you!), allow me to pose a question concerning your practices. You state early on in _Be A Goddess_ that one needen't cast a circle to cast a spell. I personally don't work well In Circle, much to the dismay of many other people. Can you elaborate some on when you would and would not cast a Circle? The advantages and disadvantages of both practices? Do you think that it is ever absolutely necessary to cast? (...she asked, greedily seeking knowledge for her own uses!!!)
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Sat 3 Nov 01 10:20
jon, I get into sooo much trouble. But it is mostly good trouble! :-) Sherry, not to worry. We *are* discussing Goddess Initiation. For example: the book helps folks find the fun and healthy sex that the Goddess wants us all to have. And what I said about being eclectic in your spiritual practices, well, the book teaches a spiritual path that is about being as eclectic as you want. See, not to worry! As to your circle question: I am big on practice rather than theory. Circle is all very well and good for some folks way of doing things, but if youre going to have ritual as part of your every day, really part of the ins and outs of your ongoing hours all day long, you cant be casting circle every two seconds. You need simple, direct, effective spells. Circle, at least as I teach it in Goddess Initiation, is for extra focus, protection, and oomph, when you need it Mind, you, I am talking about magic as it is done in The Third Road®, which is the system I teach and write about. Other systems may need circle for all rituals, but anything I say about shamanism or magic or Wicca or spirituality is specific to The Third Road. As to your question about necessity, I wouldnt venture to say to Wiccans at large whether it is necessary to cast or not, since everyones style is unique. And even in the Third Road community, everyones unique style is supported as part of the actual curriculum, even in my books, so again, it is usually a personal thing.
Sherry Thrash (izzie) Sat 3 Nov 01 11:48
Next question, then... When I hear "ritual", I think of robes, incense, bells, blades, goblets...the whole shootin' match. Perhaps that is Ritual, instead of ritual? When cooking, for example, where does the ritual/Ritual come in? For me, I have some pretty pat routines - like for my child's bedtime. I would like to infuse of my routine with my spirituality. Is this what you mean by have ritual in our everyday lives?
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Sat 3 Nov 01 12:37
You understand the essence -- the core -- of ritual, which is to, as you say, infuse my routine with my spirituality. The other part of that deep heart of magic is to recognize the unique power of any situation and use, celebrate or, if need be, change it. If incense, candles and magic wands do the trick, so be it. But if a hug does the trick, use the hug! Celtic spirituality, which is what I teach, is practical and down-to-earth. But does that answer the essence of your question? I want to make sure I addressed what you are *really* asking. In fact, hey, *everyone,* if at any time my response does not really address the heart of your question, let me know. I aim to serve. When cooking, I might burn a pink candle -- pink, magically speaking, being a homey, cozy color -- to affirm the sacredness of the food I am about to eat. But I neednt do any more that just light that candle, neednt do a chant or prayer, unless a chant or prayer is what is needed to meet the unique moment cooking can be. The candle alone might tickle my deepest self into realizing Hey, this is not just a menial chore. I can slow down and enjoy the colors of the food, the quiet of being alone in the kitchen, and the knowledge that friends will be here soon to break bread with me. But you neednt even use a candle. If you, for example, are feeling grumpy and resentful that you have to cook too often lately, you can use your imagination to send that resentment down to the earth, and thus free up the inner delight at what cooking can actually mean. Again, you neednt do any more than get in touch with the icky feelings and send them down. Simple, but effective: *real* ritual, in the sense that it really works and is relevant to ones actual life. Very traditional shamanism.
Sherry Thrash (izzie) Sat 3 Nov 01 13:05
O yeah! I'm liking these ideas more and more.
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Sat 3 Nov 01 19:28
I just about *knew* you would relate. You seem a down n dirty, to-the-point, *old-fashioned* witch-babe-a-go-go! But the simplicity of ritual that I am talking about is deceptive. What I say here is oversimplified because were chatting on-line instead of involved in a full-out training. The outward ritual may appear simple and without trappings, but the internal process is another thing. That is where the real magic happens; in, among other things, ones well-developed imagination, fine honed focus, experienced use of visualization, unencumbered will, ability to draw and shape power, and the personality made so healthy that it can cast spells effectively. A shaman is her/his own most important magical tool. And those internal assets are what is developed in shamanic training. For example, ones inward blocks to self-worth, fulfillment, and joy make one a less effective magical being. That's why I emphasize cleansing of ones inner blocks so much when I train people in shamanic ritual, whether its in Goddess Initiation or in a class. This purification is relevant in more ways than one might imagine. Lets say one is doing a ritual to create prosperity or a great sex life, and trying to have that fine honed focus I spoke of. During that ritual, as one gets in touch with ones deep longing for a better life or fulfilling sex, that focus is going to go kaput if one is suddenly filled with guilt about wanting happiness or seeking passion.
Sherry Thrash (izzie) Mon 5 Nov 01 07:14
<scribbled by izzie Mon 5 Nov 01 07:17>
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Mon 5 Nov 01 10:18
Sherry, there is nothing in your message. Hm, I *am* psychic but I think it would be better if you told me outright what your question or comment is. :-) Joking aside, I am only posting this so you would see the "new post' mesage and thus discover that your post misfired.
Sherry Thrash (izzie) Mon 5 Nov 01 10:24
Francesca, Okay, I'm stuck. I want to talk/hear about how your Third Road teaching is different from other self-help pratices in outcome. As I've been reading, I've been reminded of the teachings of self-love, discontinuing the "old tapes", treating others with absolute respect as we start to respect ourselves, no one's issues being original or unusual... all things I've seen or heard elsewhere. But I cannot lose the sense of This Is Different! There Is More Here!! What am I not being able to put a finger on? Even the spirituality - it's been taught in a similar vein by others (I'm thinking of 12-Step programs in particular here). But there's something different... So that's why there has been no question why- I'm really stuck! I know the, uh, stuckage is mine, and last night, it was sent to and kissed by my Star. The result seems to be that I'm writing this down and sending it to you! The stuckage: "I know there is something more, something deeper about this program than others I've seen. Why can't I talk about it??" The result: "Hey, Francesca...." I'm almost done reading Goddess Initiation, and have started my first month's work - which for me is very exciting, but doesn't transfer well into interview format. I think I have a pretty healthy ego, with a humility I interpret as acceptance of an honest self-appraisal. But I'm still learning alot through your teaching. I don't know that I'd really call myself an adept, but my soul's in good shape, my life is very fulfilling, my sex life is good...yadda yadda yadda... But I'm still learning and growing even so. There *is* something different about this!!
Sherry Thrash (izzie) Mon 5 Nov 01 10:26
(for everyone else's benefit...) I could not manage to put my question into words, and forgot to scribble the blank post. I then emailed Francesca, as you see above. We'll leave it at that!!!! (and I was posting as she was posting, which in The Well, we call a Slip) Francesca slipped!
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 5 Nov 01 10:52
I haven't started the first month yet, and I also feel that there is something different about it. Lately, as I've been on my own spiritual path, which has consisted mainly of looking for a spiritual path to be on, I've had the feeling that I should be the one leading, instead of looking for someone, or something, to follow. I say this because each thing that I have encountered has felt like the same old thing. And yet, this book is really striking a chord with me, and I hope it will truly help me get unstuck in significant areas of my life. I want to stop sabotaging success in my life, and I hope that the practice will help there. I want to be able to see a path forward for myself on all levels, not just spiritual, and I hope that it will help with that as well. Could you talk about being stuck, what you think it means, and how people can get unstuck in their lives?
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Mon 5 Nov 01 13:25
Sherry, Thank you for your breathtaking, brave post! Ditto, Linda: you are both so forthcoming. This is great! We can have a *real* talk as people who are trying to improve our lives and have an honest focus on spiritual growth! Wow! I am honored that you are doing the training. Completely, thoroughly honored and flattered. Omigoddess! Everyone, Sherry's kissed by a star refers to a ritual in Goddess Initiation. In the ritual, you send an inner block -- EG fear of success, inability to trust or perhaps even hear your inner voice, invalidation of your healthy anger -- to a special star in the sky. The star kisses the block turning it into a trait more suited to a successful fulfilled life. Sherry, the confusion you state is perfect for an interview format. Because it is your personal and intelligent dilemma, part of your unique journey. Which is what a happy life and magic are really about. One of the goals of the shamanic training in Goddess Initiation (GI) is to help everyone validate their very personal, unique journey, including its confusion and worries. Those confusions and worries hold the essence of who we. Another part of GIs training is rituals that help people voice those unique thoughts and feelings, which is part of how we become unstuck in our lives, Linda. Perhaps Sherry voices it as an interview question but someone else might voice it by dancing, or by hugging the kindergartners she teaches and thus voice her belief that folks need hugs everyday. As to what is different in the book: It is not me, that is for sure. Im just a spiritual brat who argues with God all the time: She suggests something that could really make me happy and I say Thanks very much for the input. But I want to go do things my way, and be miserable. :-) What *is* different is that this book is not from me. It is from the Goddess. So it works. All the same old cliches, tools and so on in the book cant work if they are not applied correctly. So She wrote a book in which proper application and context are everything. As to your question How are the books results different? Hee hee hee, the difference is that the material actually works! (I have no false humility!) Im a miracle worker when it comes to helping folks be whole and happy. (Oh, this sounds so arrogant!) And I hate books that put little bitty band-aids on deep soul wounds. I spend years developing the curriculum I publish . And when I see students years after our classes together, I am blown away because they seem bigger than life: long term results came of their use of the Third Road. (The Third Road is the curriculum I teach and publish.) This doesn't mean that if you do the training, everything turns into a perfectly blank-minded cow-like lightness and sweet, sticky, fake goodness. That would be what results from heroin, not from healthy spirituality. Spirituality is not a drug Life is truly tuff. I tried to create a curriculum that does not gloss over life's challenges and contradictions, but integrates them into ones approach to living. And I hate the unnecessary pain that happens when people have to face lifes challenges alone!!!!! So part of what I create is material that helps folks during challenges, big and small -- the challenge of creating a better career, or of writing a poem, or the trauma of incest or of being in a war -- and helps folks come out of it whole and healthy. So many people feel too small to make a difference in their own life and in other people lives; that is not necessary. As to Sherry being a together person, yet the book is still working for you: The Goddess wrote this book and, hey, She is God, so She is pretty savvy and powerful! So She meets the reader: whoever you are, whether healthy or high functioning, or terribly wounded from childhood abuse, or both, whether you know lotsa magic or are a novice, the book meets you as a unique being with unique needs and goals. I couldn't write such a book, being limited as a human being, but She is a great writer! :-) Linda, an important part of shamanic training is acknowledging that we are all leaders. I may lead a spiritual class, but someone else may lead by booking the best possible bands for a venue. Someone else leads by raising kids; we all have our expertise. It may not always show as overt leadership: someone leads by example if they are courteous as a check-out person at a local grocery store. Maybe what you are responding to in the book is that. And that the training is about drawing out *your* own unique spiritual path. Linda, Sherrys use of Kissed By a Star is an example of someone getting unstuck in a very practical way. The ritual cleared up enough that she could voice her confusions in her post; maybe the rite helped her write her direct, honest letter that outlines a passionate dilemma that reflects her beauty and depth and that of everyone elses. When we keep clearing inner blocks we are no longer stuck and can write (create art, live a life style, have a marriage, etc) that is personal and honest and useful. In the 1960s people proclaimed Im free, Im free. But many people who, for example, proclaimed sexual freedom were not sexually happy. Rituals loosen up the inner blocks to walking the talk. The shamanic journey is in part about discovering those blocks and cleansing them away.
Pamela (pamela-bird) Tue 6 Nov 01 14:34
Hi, Francesca. Im wandering in here relatively unprepared. I havent read your books, but I was really curious about the conference subject and the title of your book. I think, more than anything, it was the wild wisdom in the title that drew me. Theres something there that I recognize, that Ive known my whole life, something thats accompanied me as long as I can remember... And reading through your responses, Ive just realized that Im still looking for something about that... something that makes sense to me in your words. Like Linda, I was on a searching path for several years. I read the Amazon.com reviews for your book, and Scott Schulz, a GI initiate, wrote: This is the Third Road/The road that chooses you. Thats what my search felt like. Rather than finding a *new* path, my journey was more like finding the *right* path. As though Id been lost, finally realized why I felt so displaced, and went looking for Home. Ive been involved in a neopagan practice for a year, primarily in groups. But Ive felt something missing. And I havent known where to look or what to do about it, really. And it has to do with this thing that feels like wild wisdom, for lack of any better name to call it by. And it has to do with what you said about putting little bitty band-aids on deep soul wounds, and with were all leaders. My experience of healing is that its a circle--an ever-deepening, ever-widening circle that reaches for and integrates whatever/whomever it contacts. Both wounding and healing in my life have encompassed my sexuality, my art and my magic. Because theres *power* there. But in my neopagan practice, there is something in me that feels a sense of putting small ritual-bandaids on large powers, and is frustrated by that. Because thats not the Thing/Person/Place that Ive known. Again, it feels related to what you said about the 60s sexual revolution: the acting-out without the spiritual faculty. Or something. Im definitely planning to get your book and do the work. But, in the meantime, Im really interested in what you have to say about the connection of these powers, this Power... the Power that I feel inhabits all of these areas of my life. Something that feels like Wild Wisdom. Id also like to know any specifically Celtic spiritual tools or Goddesses youd recommend working with.
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