This month's special guest in the Creative Soul Circle (my online social site and support group for women-only) is Mary Lane, chef, wildcrafter and author of Divine Nourishment: A Woman's Sacred Journey with Food. To chat with Mary in a special November thread held in the Circle please sign up here - it's free to join!
“Remembering” The Sacred Art of Nourishing by Mary Lane
The sacred art of nourishing was practiced in ancient goddess traditions in many forms. It was a way of honoring the sensual pleasures and blessings that came with our physical existence. Nourishing one’s self through food, beauty, touch, sex, music, art and nature is an act of receiving Divine love. The destruction of the goddess cultures has resulted in disconnecting from this sacred art and the belief by many that they are unworthy of this nourishment.
I have met and worked with many women over the years and it has become glaringly apparent to me that just about every woman I’ve known is comfortable with offering nourishment to others. Receiving it is another matter.
I lived in a rather funky little jungle house built into the side of a ridge in the rainforest on Maui. It was an indoor, outdoor lifestyle. The house was all glass on one side overlooking the jungle, with the ocean a short walk away.
I decided to create a day of nourishment for five of my women friends and called it Pele’s Parlor. They gathered one morning at my jungle home for tea from local herbs I had gathered and dried.
We walked down a rutted, dirt road that ended on the cliff of the north shore overlooking the ocean and a special bay. It was whale season so we hung out on the cliff awhile, watching the whales breaching and swimming past. The view was breathtaking. The bay was lined with lava rock that had been ground smooth from the ocean’s constant ebb and flow. I could lie in my bed at home and listen to her roll the rocks back and forth in the stillness of the night. It was her song for the whole neighborhood.
The five of us built a small fire in the shade under a large false almond tree. Then we stripped off our clothes, dove into the ocean waves, and lounged on the warm boulders with the surf crashing around us. I ceremoniously brought out the sacred red dirt harvested from a vein that ran through the cliff, put it in my coconut bowl and added a little ocean water, mixing it into a fine slip. We gathered around and smeared this iron-rich mud all over our bodies. The only thing showing that was not bright red were the rings around our eyes. We basked on the boulders in the sun as the sacred mud drew out toxins and filled us with blood-nourishing iron.
Some women could not help but release their primordial screams as they danced on the rocks, covered in mud with the waves crashing around them. We dove into the ocean and scrubbed off the mud with seaweed, then returned to the fire for a snack in the shade. Each of us ran our fingers over our silky skin—oohing, aahing and feeling primal.
We walked back to the lanai of my jungle house where I had set up a table filled with bowls of avocado, yogurt, papaya, oatmeal and yogurt, breast massage creams, foot massage oils, moisturizers, washcloths and towels. We gave ourselves facials with the various ingredients and ate the wonderful fruits that grew wild in the jungle, We had bananas, mango, guava, pineapple and coconut.
After awhile, with faces smeared with food, we all went into the kitchen and prepared a meal together giggling, talking story and drinking my wild-crafted tea. We convened back to the lanai and sat around a beautifully-set table with flowers that grew abundantly around the house.
Another woman friend who specializes in the ancient Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage set up a massage table and altar in the downstairs, outdoor room. Each woman took her turn receiving a massage. Another woman brought her Tarot cards and gave each of us a short reading. We continued to drop deeper into self-nourishment while being filled by our friendship. The image of one of the women sitting on my lanai eating wild guava, tear-streaked face smeared with avocado while she massaged her breasts with oil, will forever be etched in my memory. Her tears flowed with the merged feelings of gratitude for this experience and the deep grief of not feeling worthy of such frivolity.
As the day unfolded every woman had a moment of deep grief woven with joy and ecstasy. At some point throughout the day, each of us fell into our moment of recognition of the absence of this in our lives. Unanimously the feeling of not deserving nourishment in the form of pure pleasure was expressed by the women as if it came from the same underground pool.
Soon it was dusk. With the candles lit, the Hawaiian music playing, another snack, we all melted into a moment of deep nourishment and self-love. We were full.
The next morning I received a call from the one of the husbands. “I don’t know what you women did yesterday, but a monster left in the morning and a goddess returned.”
Mary Lane is the author of Divine Nourishment, A Woman’s Sacred Journey with Food. Through her 30 year career as a professional chef she deepened her understanding of the connection between food and nourishment, the wisdom of nature, sexuality, and the Divine Feminine. She is dedicated to supporting women to transform self rejection to self care, honor and love. http://www.DivineNourishment.net