Issue #8, December, 2004

Welcome to the December issue of the Elderwoman Newsletter - a place where 21st century elderwomen meet and dance with each other in cyberspace. 


View from the Desk
- Treasure Pot #1 - The Watercolour Bedroom
Treasure Pot #2 - The Great Council of Grandmothers
Treasure Pot #3 - The Wild Genie
Music Makers
Life Lessons Survey
- Travel
- Crones Counsel
- Homecoming
- New Book
- Discussion Group
Feature Article - "My Best Friend" by Jan Coleman
Good Body - Link to Interview with Eve Ensler
New Message from The Grandmothers
Message from Clarissa Pinkola Estes - "We Were Made for These Times"
Book Reviews
Last Laugh


Dear Friends,

Here we are at the end of another year. The carol singers are already at the door and the seasonal greetings cards are tumbling through the letterbox. Where did those months go?!!

Whenever I get that feeling that time is whizzing by faster than it used to, I see it as a reminder that I'm not spending enough time in slow, relaxed enjoyment of the present moment. Whenever I can remember to do that, my awareness of time changes altogether. Time is, after all, a human invention, hard as it may be to get one's mind around that. And we all know how elastic time is. It takes no time at all to go from one Christmas to the next, and lunch with a dear friend is over in a jiffy, yet having a tooth drilled always seems to last for eternity.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are approaching the shortest day and that delicious moment of turning when we know that from now on we are moving back once more towards the light. This year, a group of us here in my village will be doing a ritual on the clifftops to mark the exact moment of the Solstice and to celebrate that turning towards the light.

It's interesting to note how much of our traditional, Christmas symbolism has to do with that yearning for the light - stars, candles tinsel etc. It is a symbolism which is totally wrong for the Southern Hemisphere, of course, where Christmas happens at the brightest, lightest time of year. So I applaud all those who find more seasonally appropriate ways to celebrate this time of year Downunder. Please write and share your stories of how you do that.

And speaking of stories...
Our world is so obsessed with celebrities. And with big stories. But what about the small stories of ordinary people whose lives never reach the headlines? Those ordinary, sweet people you never hear about on TV. Jan's friend Joe was one of those. In the feature article, My Best Friend she tells us about him and their fifty years of friendship

Also in this newsletter I share with you some of the new treasures I have discovered recently and tell my own stories - of my travels and of Crones Counsel.

There are also several pieces - which I hope you will find inspirational - about ways to cope with living in troubled times.

So this is a longer-than-usual newsletter. I hope you have time to read it. With it, come my very best wishes for this year-end time, no matter what aspect of it you choose to celebrate nor in what way. And may we all have a peaceful, co-operative, green, juicy and joyful New Year.
Many blessings,



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I have added a number of new links to the Elderwoman website, each of which feels to me like a little pot of treasure. So I want to share with you a little bit more about some of these treasure pots. First, there's Daphne, and her "Watercolour Bedroom," then Sharon, with the Great Council of Grandmothers, and then Alexandra and her "Wild Genie" work on menstruation. So read on....

Treasure Pot #1 - The Watercolour Bedroom

Those of you in the Discussion Group have already "cybermet" (my new word) Daphne Stevens, from Macon, Georgia, who joined the Group in November. For those who haven't, I want to tell you that I have just read her book Watercolor Bedroom: Creating a Soulful Midlife and I loved it. It is one of those delightful books that belongs on the bedside table of every woman over forty-five.

Jennifer Louden, the author of Comfort Secrets for Busy Women says of it:
What a delightful, personal, nurturing peek into one woman's journey of creating a life that fits for her - a truly comforting, wise Grandmother God life. A blend of 'A Room of One's Own' and 'The Woman's Comfort Book.' I enjoyed it immensely."

So will you, I guarantee. And it is a great book to give to your women friends as a gift, touching as it does on so many of those universal themes that we all have to deal with as we move into the third age. You can read more about it (and order copies) on Daphne's website:
(I'm so happy to have you in our network, Daphne)


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Treasure Pot #2 - The Great Council of Grandmothers

The next treasure pot was handed to me by Marilyn Perona (thank you, Marilyn), and that was the amazing story of Sharon McErlane and her first meeting with the "Great Council of Grandmothers."
Here's how Sharon herself tells the story:

"It was a seemingly normal fall day.I was just going for a walk...

"The stillness that lay over the town was as reflective as I. For days I had been thinking about the direction of my life's work, and as I mulled this over once again, the dog pulled on the leash, hurrying me across Pacific Coast Highway toward the beach. We were approaching the walkway along the cliff when a group of older women suddenly appeared in front of us. It was the oddest thing. They were simply there.

"The women gathered around us, speaking and gesturing with great animation, and as they smiled and laughed with one another, they beckoned me to join them. Their voices rang round me as they called to each other and for a moment, I caught a bit of a song they were singing.

"They were lively, welcoming and so happy; I immediately noticed their sweet, open faces. But when they stood close I saw that they wore costumes from distant times and places. I stared, open mouthed, while I tried to make sense of this, but one with long gray hair fixed me with such a welcoming smile that for a moment I forgot about their strangeness.

"Then I noticed that I was looking through them. I could see trees, the walkway to the beach and the waves of the ocean right through their bodies. I shook my head, trying to clear my vision but they were still transparent. Could this be a dream?......"

Whatever it was, it changed Sharon's life. Since that day, she has devoted all her time and energy to spreading the insights brought to her by this mysterious group of women - a group she was to come to know better and better as time went on and whose wisdom she has now made it her task to disseminate.

To read more about this, go to Sharon's website at: Meanwhile, further on in this newsletter, you'll find the latest message from the Great Council of Grandmothers. Welcome, Sharon, to our Elderwoman Network.


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Treasure Pot #3 - The Wild Genie

Like me, many of you have long since moved out of the moon's immediate tidal influence and are sailing in the calmer, post-menopausal waters. But even so, we can still feel the bonding that ties all women together through the mystical experience of having - or having once had - a womb that bleeds.
It is only natural, then, that one of our roles as elderwomen is to initiate younger women into the deeper meanings of those female rhythms - and the potential they hold for growth and transformation - since there is no way anyone can learn that from a Western, mainstream culture that ignores menstruation (except to colour the blood blue for TV ads !!)
Alexandra Pope, author of The Wild Genie: The Healing Power of Menstruation, (Sally Milner Publishing, 2001) runs workshops for women, both in Australia and in the UK, on the wisdom of menstruation. Through her workshops, women learn to reclaim the menstrual cycle as a psychospiritual process for cultivating deep authority and wisdom. She says: "
It is, after all, a woman's innate system of renewal and inspiration. The reason that most women don't experience their cycles in that way is that all of us have been thoroughly educated out of the deep intelligence and authority of our bodies."
Alexandra's work is based on restoring all that. She is keen, also, to see this work integrated into the training of psychotherapists, health care practitioners and educators. You can read more about Alexandra and her work at And please pass this on to your younger sisters.

Thinking, too, of those just coming into womanhood - your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, students or whatever - Alexandra wants me to pass on the following message:
A friend of mine, Shushann Movsessian, has just published a book for girls called Puberty Girl (Allen and Unwin) - it's the most wonderful guide for girls on what 's happening to them at puberty...written with humour, directness, whilst also pacing pre-pubescent girl's edginess/embarrassment around menstruation etc. It is also beautifully illustrated. Shusahnn has taught workshops on this for 14 years now at Sydney Royal Hospital for Woman - so she really knows how to talk to girls.
Thank you for being such an ally of the work

Thank you, too, Alexandra - and welcome.


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And more...
The Music Makers

I have also discovered singer Pauline Le Bel, from Canada, who has made a CD called Dancing with the Crone. Pauline ran a "Kiss the Crone" workshop at the Women of Wisdom Conference in Seattle last year, and sang at the International Goddess Festival 2 years ago, She has been invited back to Glastonbury in 2006 to sing her Crone songs, and hopes she will be able to go. I am also trying to persuade her to attend Crones Counsel in San Diego next October, as I am sure she will be well received there. You'll find Pauline on the Web at:

Anique Radiant Heart, from Australia, whose voice is one of the most powerful and beautiful I've heard in years, has also graced Crones Counsel with her delightful presence, two years in a row. It as though Edith Piaf has come back to life - but this time with a mission to express the sacred feminine through song. Anique sang at the Goddess Festival this year, and toured some of south-west England's sacred sites. She is taking bookings for a very special and very different tour of Outback Australia - details of which you will find on her website:

Welcome to these beautiful women of song.

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Life's Lessons Survey

A message from Cornell:
Researchers from the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA) are seeking statements from people age 60 and over about things they feel they have learned over the course of their lives. For example, what are the most important lessons you have learned? If you wanted to give younger generations (like your grandchildren) advice about life, what would that be? You can share lessons from any area of your life: work, family, spirituality, health, marriage, etc. We plan to publish selected responses on our website, and possibly in book form. Please help us by going to and sharing your experiences with us. Thank you for your time. "
( Karl Pillemer, Ph.D., CITRA Director and Myra Sabir, Ph.D., CITRA Research Associate)

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Cancerian homebody that I am, it is often hard for me to prise myself out of my comfort zone and go travelling. Almost always, I spend the first few days feeling homesick and wondering why I put myself through this again and again. But I do know why. It's kind of like going out into the fields to bring in the harvest. Only in my case, it is a harvest of ideas, scenes, images, experiences, meetings, adventures.

I come back each time feeling replenished, fuelled, invigorated, my heart warmed by new friendships and my mind stimulated by new ideas. So I hope to go on doing it as long as possible.

But I am getting soft in my old age, and enjoying my comforts more and more. So this year Sky and I travelled in luxury. We left our old, two-person tent at home and bought a brand new, four-person tent that you can actually stand up in! Plus a marvellous, king-sized duvet which kept us snug as the proverbial bugs on cool nights in the mountains.

I could tell you all about our adventures - the hikes we took, the hot springs we soaked in, the fascinating creatures we met (including a particularly handsome rattlesnake) the places and people we visited and revisited, and all the wonderful scenery we saw, but I won't because it would take up at least three newsletters and this one's long enough already. What I will tell you, however, is that I went to Crones Counsel again. This year, it was held in Las Vegas.


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Crones Counsel

A number of people have asked me to say more about this annual event and what it involves. I admit that when I first heard the term "Crones Counsel" I thought it was one of those transatlantic spelling differences, and that it really should have been "council" not "counsel." Then someone explained to me that the name was deliberately chosen because crones, when they get together, always like to counsel with each other - in other words, to share their stories.

So Crones Counsel is built around storytelling. Anyone who wants to is invited to share the experiences and stories of her life, whether funny or sad, scary or mad, ordinary or inspirational. Sharing stories, I believe, is one of the most valuable and wonderful things that women do. It is how we heal ourselves and each other. It is one of the most important ways in which we bond.

As well as sharing their stories, the women at Crones Counsel laugh (a lot!), cry, sing, dance, chant, drum, discuss, network, entertain each other, hold workshops for each other in all kinds of things and generally hang out together for three days and have a ball, the way only women of mature age can. There is no-one to impress. No-one is judging. Hearts are open. The atmosphere is one of total, loving acceptance. A place where you can be truly yourself, truly authentic, without fear of criticism - and get a standing ovation for simply being who you are.

I have already booked for 2005. This time, it will take place in San Diego, over three days in mid-October.

It would be great to take others from the UK with me next time. So if there is anyone on my side of The Pond who would like to come but feels nervous about doing it on her own, I'd be delighted to take a small group there. I'll be going to San Francisco and Los Angeles as well, while I am in California. So if you fancy a California visit, with companionship, and with Crones Counsel as the highlight of the trip, let me know.

My morning walks in Las Vegas, of course, were very different to the ones I had been taking in the preceding weeks. Here, instead of rocks and trees, the canyons were of concrete and steel, flashing neon and noise, noise, noise. Since I don't have a gambling bone in my body, I only went into the casinos to use their toilets. Otherwise I just walked and people-watched. The Flamingo - one of the only two casinos I did go into - has a "tropical garden" in the middle, with live flamingos, fish, palm trees and a little colony of rather sad-looking African penguins. I stood a while watching them. Poor things - fancy being stranded in Las Vegas for life!


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Before returning home, I flew to Boston and spent some wonderful time hanging out with my children and grandchildren and sharing their everyday lives . They live near the arboretum, which looked absolutely magnificent with all the deciduous trees turning their autumn colours. But by the end of that visit there was a nip in the air - a signal that the season for travelling was over for another year and it was time to head back to my dear, green, patchwork island. Time to come back to our village and our cottage, and this desk, where I now sit, sorting through the fruits of my 2004 "harvest."

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New Book

My new book, The Lilypad List:7 steps to the simple life went on sale in September in the UK, and in October in the US. The first copies are just arriving in Australia.

Several reviews have come in and they are very positive. (Whew! Relief!). If you want a copy, I'd love it if you could order it from your local, independent bookstore, as that encourages them to stock the book (and avoids giving money to the big chains which threaten the livelihood of the independents). But if for some reason you need to buy online, you can do it through the Elderwoman website. And by the way, on the 'To Buy Books' page, there's a link to the Publisher's site, from which you can download a free excerpt.

If you read the book and enjoy it, it would be wonderful if you wrote a customer review for one of the online bookstores, like, (or if you are in the UK) or Barnes & Noble etc. I know some of you did that for Elderwoman and it was a huge help, especially as lots of other online bookstores copy those reviews on to their sites.


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Discussion Group


A bunch of new people signed up for the Elderwoman Discussion Group recently. "Conversation" has been sporadic, and sometimes a week or more will go by with no messages. But a number of people have told me, privately, how much they value the fact that the Group is there.

So please, if you are a member of the Group, don't be shy. Send a message and tell us what is happening in your life, ask a question, venture an opinion, share a feeling. The small, everyday news items are just as important as the big, life-changing ones.

If you are not a member, we'd love you to sign up. Just send me an e-mail and I'll add your name to the list. The more of us on the list, the richer the mix.

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"My Best Friend" by Jan Coleman

Jan lived on the West coast of the USA and her friend Joe lived in the East. But their friendship - that began when she was just a teenager - lasted fifty years. And the longer it lasted, the better it got. Here, Jan pays tribute to the memory of the man she has always thought of as her best friend.

For many years we discussed what we wanted to do for our 50th anniversary.
Would we fly to Paris or cruise in the Mediterranean or go again to our favorite place in Kauai? What we definitely didn't even consider was that I would be saying the Eulogy at Joe's memorial service in Schenectady, New York. But at least we spent our anniversary together.

Usually when people talk about a 50th anniversary they are meaning fifty years of marriage. Joe and I weren't married but we were best friends for fifty years. I met Joe when I was fifteen years old and worked in a
plumbing and heating company after school. I was the "Girl Friday" who did typing and shorthand, covered the switchboard when a break was needed by the operator, and generally did whatever was needed. Everyone in the small office was friendly and helpful and I stayed with this company for
two years until I graduated high school.

I especially liked one salesman who went out of his way to make me feel comfortable. When I turned seventeen, Joe was double my age, which, in my eyes, made him a very fatherly figure much to Joe's chagrin.

After high school, I didnšt see Joe for five years but we talked on the phone and sent Christmas cards.
We next saw each other when we danced at my wedding. I was very happy that Joe had taken the time to come to give me his best wishes. A year later I was off to California with my new husband and a baby about to be born within the next month. After that, we often did not see each other for years at a time.
However, whenever I went back to Schenectady, NY, I did phone him and we saw each other, if possible. And, of course, Christmas cards, photos, and notes were exchanged so he always knew about my family and what I was doing.

Joe was an Irishman with a small to medium build and was about 5' 7" tall with a fair complexion and twinkling eyes. The first thing that I ever noticed about him was his big smile which was so real and with teeth so white ­ the kind people are paying lots of money to have now. He had a boyish face, which made him look years younger than he was which served him well in older age. Joe also always wore glasses - those that were thick clear or horn rimmed, large plastic jobs. No matter how the styles changed, here was Joe with his thick glass frames. No little wire rims for him.

When he wasn't at work he always dressed the same: khaki pants, polo shirt that opened at the neck and with a pocket, a cardigan sweater, when needed, and a golf hat. For the last half of his life, Joe was bald with a white fringe around his head and always wore his golf hat winter and summer so he wouldn't burn or freeze his dome. Joe loved to golf and did so until very late in his life bursitis set into one shoulder and put an end to that enjoyment.

Joe was a friendly person with a great sense of humor. His combination of intelligence and humor made him a joy to be with. He never said anything negative or mean about anyone, which I found amazing because I certainly had opinions of others, which weren't always pleasant. How accepting this man was of everything and everybody. I certainly had lots to learn from him.

When Joe retired at 65, knowing that I was divorced, he asked if he could visit me. That was the first of many vacations we took together. We traveled together all over California the first few years enjoying Yosemite, the gold country, famous Carmel, and the butterflies in Pacific Grove. Then we began cruising to the Caribbean and Alaska and flying to Hawaii, where we stayed on a different island each time until we had explored all of them. Joe even broke loose and bought a pink shirt for one of our trips to Hawaii. This was a bit outrageous for conservative Joe.

I liked to play tricks and take him places where he'd never go on his own. Each time we'd get together I'd plan something for him that would be a new experience. I remember him being surprised when I treated him to a day at Calistoga Spa. He was given the whole treatment, which began with a mud bath, then a shower to rinse off the mud, a tepid bath, then the steam room, the blanket sweat, and finally a massage. The next step was to go outside to a natural mineral lounging pool to meet up with me. Joe, however, did not show up outside at the appropriate time. I waited in the pool for an extra half hour and then went in looking for him. What had happened to him? I was hoping he didn't have a heart attack. The problem was that the poor man had been forgotten about and left in his blanket for too long a time. His arms were pinned inside the blanket and he couldn't move them in order to bang on the walls. After a while, he started calling softly to get someone's attention but went unheard. Finally, getting up his nerve, he started yelling until someone
found him.

It was not a very pleasant experience, but we had plenty to laugh about that evening. Joe actually enjoyed most of the treatment and was given a Polaroid picture of himself in the tub. He carried that picture home and showed it to his buddies at his favorite bar and restaurant, which was very much like the "Cheers" bar in Boston. No wonder people in other parts of the country think that we're all nuts and fruits out here. Who
would pay money to sit in a tub with volcanic ash and peat moss to exfoliate
the toxins out of their body?

Joe and I could talk about anything and, even when he didn't agree with me, I knew he still enjoyed my weird ideas. He once confided to me that the best time of his life was after sixty-five when he began to spread his wings a bit. Joe never married nor had children, which is a shame, because he would have been wonderful as a husband and father.

Joe was a man who was loyal to those he loved ­ his men friends from elementary and high schools and those friends he met along the way. In retirement, his life was one of service helping the widows of his friends by taking them grocery shopping, helping with chores, and becoming a surrogate father for a son of a friend who had died leaving a mentally challenged boy. Even as a young man he liked to help others, for he was the one who taught me to drive when I was sixteen and my father had thrown up his hands. During the last ten years of his life, I always drove and he always mentioned what a good driver I was; of course, because he had been my teacher. He was a devout Catholic and never veered away from what he had
been taught by his parents. The difference about his life was that he really lived the spiritual principles. And he was lucky enough to have had loving parents.

Joe Howley was a Lover ­ a lover of life and his family and friends. I remember him with his smiling face, great disposition, and wonderful willingness to explore new experiences. I feel totally blessed to have had
this man in my life for fifty years. Nobody could have had a better best friend.

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 THE GOOD BODY - Link to Interview with Eve Ensler

The Nov/Dec issue of Mother Jones magazine contained an interview with Eve Ensler, conducted by Andi Zeisler just after the world premiere of Eve's new show The Good Body in San Francisco. Andi wrote...

"It's hard not to admire a woman who looks you straight in the eye and says with a beatific smile, "I love the word 'vagina.'" Yet if you're familiar with Eve Ensler's work, the statement hardly comes as a surprise -- her play The Vagina Monologues has, since its first staging in 1996, become a phenomenon in the worlds of both theater and feminism. Every year around Valentine's Day, activists worldwide mount V-Day benefit performances to raise money and awareness to stop violence against women. Ensler's most recent Monologues spin-off has been the "V Is for Vote" campaign, which registers single women and pressures politicians to make ending the abuse of women a central -- rather than special-interest -- issue.
Meanwhile Ensler's new one-woman play, The Good Body, shifts the focus north by inches, taking on post-40 belly sags, spreading hips, and other bodily "imperfections." In a series of vignettes, Ensler adopts the role of a teenager at fat camp, a bride transformed by her plastic-surgeon husband, and even former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown. The play's literal navel-gazing suggests that women's obsessive attention to their outsides diminishes their potential to create larger change in the world.
To read the interview, go to:

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Anyone live near Birmingham? (UK)

Attention - any or all elderwomen in the UK midlands. Dory, who lives in Vancouver, BC, writes:

"My youngest grandson (14) is a junior dog handler in a kennel club
and every February we go to New York to the Westminster Show at
Madison Square Gardens. I am mentioning this because there is an
excellent chance that he has earned a place at the Crufts Show in
Birmingham in March of next year, which is the biggest in the
world. I have never been to that part of the U.K. and so if anyone
can give me any tips, I would be deeply grateful

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Sharon (see above) asked the Grandmothers what we could do at this point in history, this time so full of stress and upheaval to help ourselves and the Earth evolve to light and goodness. She says:

They replied, "Feel your power," and showed me a woman sitting with her feet rooted on the earth, her hands placed firmly on her knees. She sat in a grounded position. "Sit like this at least once a day," they said, "with your back straight, feet firmly planted on the ground, hands on your knees or upper legs and then call on us. The straight spine lets us know that you are ready for us to come in and merge with you. And when we do this you will IMMEDIATELY feel our power. Your power," they corrected themselves. "You will hold the power of oneness with the Divine. Call in the Divine and feel your power.

"As you sit like this, waves of power will wash over you. These waves pour into the earth and into the space around your body. Power pours in from above, below, behind and through the sides of your body. When you take this position and call on us, you are choosing to anchor great power. You are becoming an outlet that others can plug into. You needn't fear any sort of depletion because people cannot drain you when you yourself are plugged into the Source. Thinking of yourself as an outlet for the Source is a good meditation for you at this time.

"When you put up Christmas tree lights this year, remember this teaching. Notice how you can hook one string of lights, then another together. You can light the whole tree this way, for as long as one plug is in the wall, all of the lights will be lit. It is only necessary for one strand to be plugged into the outlet; the others take power from that one. As long as you are attached to us, as long as you are attached to the Divine, people will be able to access divine energy simply by being around you. There is nothing you need to 'do' for this to happen. You simply go around lighting strands and more strands of Christmas lights.

"When you sit with your feet grounded, your back straight and call on us, you become especially aware of who you 'are.' People who come near you at this time will feel good, and even those who are not physically near to you will feel it. This is true because when you are united with the Divine everywhere you look and send your thought receives a blessing. Surges of power move forth from you, from the one who is plugged into the source of all power. As you sit like this, hum or sound the om and experience being linked with others through the Net of Light.


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"If at any time you should be distressed by anything you see, hear or experience in the world around you, go immediately into prayer. Assume this grounded posture and think of the Divine and instantly we or whatever form of the Divine you love will come in. You will be linked with the Source. Then as this thing that is causing you distress-the situation before you or the bit of news you have received-comes to mind, om or hum as you sit quietly. The sound and vibration from the om or hum will carry power not only through you, but through whatever situation needs divine energy.

"It is not necessary for you to always sit in this grounded position in order to pray and send blessings to others. Nor is it necessary that you sound the om or hum, but these two actions enable your body to participate more fully in these sacred events. The experience goes deep into your cells and into your memory bank. You can think of the Divine and send out prayers and blessings for others at any time--standing or lying down, while in a crowd of people (even when you are in the midst of a conversation) or while you are alone, but you will not get the same resonance as when you are sitting in this grounded position, sounding the om or humming. So whenever you can, take the time to sit like this. And once you have called on the Divine, sound the om or hum. Your body enjoys this experience. It receives healing each time you do this and you send healing and relief to others. This is practical work that you can do. Simple, practical work that will help you and help everyone.

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"The weighty, weighty problems, the horrific events taking place now in the world are going to go on for a while yet. Do not give them over much attention. These are part of the disintegration of the old energy, the old ways on earth. Instead of dwelling on these problems, take the seated position of groundedness and call on us. Become the electric plug, the divine outlet or socket. Full of power. So that all who come into your orbit receive from the Source. HOLD TO YOUR UNION WITH US. Put yourself in union with us and stay there as much as possible. All the horrors and depravities of this age will pass. Hold yourself at one with us. Do this for your own sake and for the sake of everything and everyone.

"Once again sit in that grounded position, call on us, feel us line up along your back, and sound the om or hum. You are a lighted reservoir, a light carrier, a lighted source. We bless you."


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And from the woman who taught us about running with wolves................


In a similar vein to that message from the Grandmothers, here is an inspirational message from another wise woman - Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D,
author of the best seller Women Who Run with the Wolves.

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now.

Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is
breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were
made for these times.

Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement...

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And
they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind... Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy world, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency too to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is
outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails. We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet
great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for
grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?...

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing.

We know that it does not take "everyone on Earth" to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

I hope you will write this on your wall:

When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no
doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

This comes with much love and a prayer that you remember who you came
from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth


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One of the books I received for review recently is the latest book by Deepak Chopra, entitled
The Book of Secrets. I hadn't read any of his stuff for a while (he writes so many books, it is hard to keep up with him!) but this one really impressed me.

The point he makes is that even though humans seem to have lost the plot and forgotten how to live healthily, happily and co-operatively on the Earth, in fact every cell of our bodies - and for that matter, every living cell in every living body - is coded to do precisely that. He takes, one by one, the principles upon which cells operate, and shows how this can become a guide for living healthily, happily and well. By following this guide, we align ourselves with the basic processes of the Universe. This is a book I can highly recommend.

Another book which came into my hands was Gaia Eros: Reconnecting to the magic and spirit of Nature by Jesse Wolf Hardin. Jesse and his wife Loba, with their Co-Director Kiva Rose, run the "Earthen Spirituality Project and Sweet Medicine Wildlife Sanctuary," in New Mexico. I was privileged to meet them all, this year, and to spend a week with them.

Their home is a wild and beautiful canyon you can reach only on foot, wading across the San Francisco river seven times. This magic place, which was in ancient times the home of the Mogollon (or Sweet Medicine) people, is the setting for personal, spiritual retreats, vision quests, apprenticeships in simple, natural living, restoration of riparian wilderness, wildcrafting and wild food preparation.

Those of you who subscribe to the magazine Buffalo Woman's Vision, will have read a recent article by Loba about the women's workshops and gatherings which are hosted there and her dreams for the conscious reconnection of all women to what she calls our "Sister Tribe."

Gaia Eros is a wonderful instruction manual for living one's life in close attunement with the Earth. For as its author says:

"We do not live 'on' this Earth so much as with and within it. In conscious, intimate relationship, we're thrust back into the immortal world beyond separation, into the place where magic and the mundane are one. We recognise how, like the bison and the gnat, we too belong. We remember ourselves, not as visitors on some strange and hostile landscape, but as the residents and extensions of this Spirit-filled All. We come to experience, in our hearts and bones, our bodies and our souls, the reality of our connective beingness."

A very disturbing book - but one which I think everyone ought to read - is by Felicity Lawrence, a long-time journalist on the UK national newspaper The Guardian. It is entitled Not on the Label. In case you think she is referring, here, to all the pesticide residues etc. lurking in processed food, she is not. They are there, to be sure. But there are many other things which do not appear on the label of anything that you buy in a supermarket, and if they did, you might never walk into a supermarket again. For behind those gleaming shelves lies another story. It is the story of the suffering, pain and squalor inside a chicken factory that you will never see. It is the story of the shameful way in which the supermarket chains bully, harass and exploit their suppliers. It is the story of immigrant workers so poor they make their homes in cardboard boxes on Spanish trash heaps or live twenty to a room in hovels, and the gangmasters who exploit them. It is the story of waste, pollution, cruelty and greed. And danger, too. For the 'just in time' ordering system on which all supermarket deliveries in the UK are now based means that if there was a serious oil crisis, people in cities would starve within weeks. If ever there was a book that would send you in search of your nearest farmers' market, farm shop, CSA or veg. box scheme, it's this one.


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"Don't ask yourself what the world needs - ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Harold Thurman Whitman

"In spite of illness and in spite even of the arch enemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration, if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things and happy in small ways." - Edith Wharton

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Do you know what would have happened if it had been Three Wise Women who came to Bethlehem instead of Three Wise Men?

They would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, brought practical gifts and there would be peace on Earth.

But what do you think might have happened if there had been Three Gay Wise Men?

They would have done a fabulous parade towards Bethlehem in full auburn and sequin gowns to match the low "Star of Bethlehem" lighting; arrived early; helped deliver the baby AND wrapped the baby up in a gorgeous, butter cream-coloured 100% cotton receiving blanket; cleaned the stable AND redecorated it in a "western" theme to match the animals, complete with a perfectly-centred mirror ball hanging from the wooden beams. They would not have made a casserole, but instead a flawless entree of Chilean sea bas dusted in cocoa powder with Guatemalan mangoes in a light chutney mix, mashed potatoes with a light cream fennel sauce and Anjou pears with yoghurt cream cheese and Grand Marnier swirls, topped off with a half caff cappuccino con panna.

Season's Greetings to you all

And remember......


The Elderwoman Newsletter © Marian Van Eyk McCain, December 2004
The Elderwoman website:
Marian's e-mail:
NB: remember to replace the word "at" with an @) sign. And please insert OKEM in the subject line so that your message will slide easily through my three layers of spam filtering! Unfortunately, the filters are a necessity, as I get deluged with spam. 

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