Awakin Calls » Brenda Salgado » Transcript
Brenda Salgado: Midwifing the Prophecy of an Earth-Based Feminine Consciousness
Guest: Brenda Salgado
Host: Pavi Mehta
Moderator: Sara Cohen
Welcome to Awakin Calls. Every Saturday we host a conversation with an individual whose inner journey inspires us and whose work is transforming our world in large and small ways. Awakin Calls are an all-volunteer run offering of Service Space, a global platform founded on the simple principle that by changing ourselves we change the world to create a more compassionate and service-oriented society. Thank you for joining us.
Pavi: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening! My name is Pavi Mehta and I will be your host for our weekly global Awakin Call. Welcome and thank you for joining us. The purpose of these calls is to share stories that help plant seeds for a more compassionate society, while fostering our own inner transformation. We do this by collectively holding conversations with guest speakers from all walks of life who inspire us to live in a more service-oriented way. Behind each of these calls, is an entire team of ServiceSpace volunteers whose invisible work allows us to hold this space today. Today our special guest speaker is Brenda Salgado. Thank you again for joining today’s call. Let’s start with a moment of silence to anchor ourselves.
Welcome again, to our weekly Awakin call, today in conversation with Brenda Salgado. In a few minutes, our moderator Sara Cohen will engage in a dialogue with our speaker. By the top of the hour, we'll roll into a circle of sharing where we invite all of your reflections and questions. I've opened up the queue right now, so at any point you can hit star six on your phone and you'll be prompted when it's your turn to speak. You can also email us at email@example.com to submit a comment or question via the webcast form, if you are listening online via live webcast.
Our moderator today is Sara Cohen. Sara is a ServiceSpace volunteer and a long-time spiritual seeker with multi-faceted gifts. Her work focuses on organizational excellence within local government health systems. She has a profound connection to the natural world and a deep respect for the wisdom of indigenous traditions. We couldn’t think of a more perfect person to moderate this conversation. Sara, over to you now to introduce our guest and set the ball rolling.
Sara: Thank you, Pavi. Today we have the honour of hearing from Brenda Salgado on the topic of mid-wifing the prophecy of an Earth-based feminine consciousness, and how we are shifting from an eagle way of being -- masculine, mind centred, industrial to one of the condor -- feminine, heart-centred, intuitive and earth-connected.
Brenda Salgado is a first generation Nicaraguan, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. She is a medicine woman, and a spiritual and social justice leader trained by indigenous elders in traditional medicine, and she is deeply attuned to the guidance of her ancestors and the natural world. Having spent many years in activism, community organizing and movement building, her work continues to bring her to the power inherent in sharing our stories and the power of holding space in circle for healing and transformation. Her vision involves empowering people to heal our connection with ourselves, with the land and with the people, building regenerative culture and a new way of being. She serves on the board of the Movement Strategy Centre committed to driving social change through transformative movement as well as the Lions Roar Foundation, which seeks to communicate Buddhist wisdom and practices in the modern world. She is the founder of Moon's Rising Women's circle and a founding member of Wisdom Women which focuses on building community and supporting the birthing of sacred visions for the world.
Previously, she has served as the director of the East Bay Meditation Center, a diverse community sharing wisdom teachings and social engagement. Brenda is also the principal of Nepantla Consulting which anchors projects such as the Heart-Mind Imaginarium and focuses on drawing attention to and supporting the best examples of whole-system thinking and offering resources and an educational platform that inspires the next generation of design and science practitioners. She has recently published a book called Real-world Mindfulness for Beginners on how to navigate daily life, one practice at a time. Being myself a woman who is only recently finding deepening connection with my roots in these Native Americas, and the wisdom of the indigenous rising currently underway, I am especially grateful to be participating in this conversation. Brenda, thank you so much for sharing time and space with us today. Welcome!
Brenda: Thank you so much. I am very honoured to be here and very honoured by the conversation we had earlier this week and really really inspired by the Awakin community. So I feel honoured to be here. I know I'll receive as much as I give because this is a rich community. So thank you for the invitation.
Sara: So we mentioned in the title of this talk, the prophecy of the eagle and the condor. So in this indigenous prophecy, there is a discussion of the rise of feminine energy after the strongly masculine period we've been experiencing over the past five hundred years. There's often confusion that femininity or feminine means females and masculinity means male. How do you explain the relationship of feminine and masculine to gender?
Brenda: Well, I want to honour an elder I know that does good work named Jerry Tello. I remember long ago he shared with me some teachings from indigenous times, pre-colonialism, and he talked about how women in the earlier time, women and men regardless of what your gender was, you were encouraged to be in balance and to cultivate your heart and your mind, regardless of what your gender was. And that was what it meant to be in balance. And I think about that with the prophecy of the eagle and the condor too which comes from South America. Indigenous people there talk about how the wing of the eagle is more connected to the people of the north, which is more intellect and action, very similar to the yang energy in Chinese worldview. And that the condor, the people from the south, are more connected to the heart. They are more compassionate, more connected to the earth, more loving. And again they talked about how what it means to be a good human being, regardless of your gender, is to be in balance with both those energies. And so those energies are called different things in different cultures, but what it means is to be aware of cultivating both. To be in balance and that if you're a bird who strengthens one wing and the other is very weak, you won't be able to fly well in the world.
The prophecy talks a lot about how five hundred years ago, when I think these prophecies were first being shared, from my understanding, was that we were entering a time where people who are very out of balance and over-eagle, and eagle in not necessarily in a healthy way, were going to be taking over the world, and virtually decimating the condor or heart people out of existence. And that period of five hundred years would pass, in which a lot of this medicine and knowledge and the feeling that we need to go underground or be hidden for a while, because it wasn't safe. And that after five hundred years, some of these teachings would need to come up and help humanity. First and foremost, to help the indigenous cultures and people to remember their peace, their dignity, their wholeness and to be in ceremony together across the Americas.
Sara: Thank you for sharing that and it's especially beautiful to see the way that these energies are explained. I love the way that you describe the way the energies are explained in different cultures, uses different words, but the principle of coming into balance and honouring that balance is showing up in different places. And what I am thinking is this is a time when a lot of indigenous wisdom is coming more to the surface and you are a receiver and a holder and a sharer of that wisdom. What would you share with us from these prophecies that you've been gifted and our sharing?
Brenda: To really be gentle with yourself. This comes from a long time of indoctrination, to be out of balance in different ways, and also that there isn't balance in our ancestors. So a lot of those things have been passed down. So there's a lot of need for self-love, as you do this inner introspection around where you are out of balance so that you can bring that into balance and self-forgiveness too about where we're out of balance. And knowing that some of that is our work to do and some of that is healing our ancestral lineages as well. We chose to be here on some level right now to help usher in this time.
There is a lot of beauty in some of the calendars of indigenous peoples, through the Maya where in the turning of the latest baktun some years ago -- and so that means a time of ushering in higher consciousness for humanity. But it isn't a given that we will do it. It really is dependent on our hearts and making that choice to move towards peace, love, compassion. Moving from me-oriented thinking to we-oriented thinking, being connected to the earth, being connected to the ancestors, and knowing that we're all divine beings, regardless of whether we remember that truth or not.
I do believe that we're all divine beings with gifts that came here to serve the whole and to serve love and healing and transformation and to the extent that we do our healing work and love on ourselves, but in a humble way, that is in service to the whole. It's not about the individualistic pursuit, as much as being in service to the whole, being a conduit. We have a lot of work to do and so much of it can happen in circle and community. We're not supposed to do it alone. To me the biggest thing is to really look at that myth of the pathological individual as has been said and to know that that doesn't serve our self individually and it doesn't serve us collectively, so to have that curiosity about yourself and about others and to be in circle and share story, and be in healing ceremony together, being in celebration together, being in grief together, so that we can rebuild this world the way that we need to.
Sara: You've been working in circle for a long time, and when we talked earlier this week, you talked about how a lot of what you've learnt comes back to really the power of holding space in circle. Can you share with us about when and how you knew that this was your life's calling to really devote yourself in a deeper way to this work?
Brenda: I have always just loved circle and sharing and really knowing each other's stories, but I think one of the things that really shifted for me, when I was still working at Movement Strategies Center. Before I was on their board, I worked with them as a senior fellow, and after being there for several years, I remember seeing a set of trees that I would see up on the hillside when I was driving home. And I felt that they were calling to me, saying please come up here, come up here we need you to be in sunrise ceremony here on the land. And that was many years ago and after hearing that message multiple times, I went up there at sunrise and made offerings to the land. And the messages that I got were really dear to me and guide my life now. Some of that was about the need to start a women's moon circle and to really help women come back into being, together in a different way, in a way that empowers one another and heals one another.
And that has been a profound gift to me. That has changed my life. It's allowed me both to heal some deep trauma, in the company of sisters, but it has also allowed me to step more into my power, and to be witnessed by my sisters and encourage my sisters in that, knowing that so much of what we have been trained in the past is about being competitive and not necessarily always supporting each other, being gossipy about each other.
So that has been really profound to me. We met for the first four years on the new moon and the full moon and there's something about getting into the rhythm of the Earth that really grounded us in a really beautiful way. Got us more in our hearts and in our womb and in our intuition, and our connection to the earth.
And then I think also I've been really -- I mentioned Jerry Tello earlier. I met him when I was at Movement Strategy Centre and he was part of the National Compadres Network and he does a lot of similar circle work retreats, writes a passage with young men, and he does a lot of circle work with them, so I believe that this medicine is for everybody. He does say to me -- you know the circles in the retreat for men look a little different than the one for women, because we have different work to do.
But I believe that circle is ancient technology, ancient structure, ancient process from all cultures, so it is doesn't belong to any one lineage. It is just that some groups of people have more contact with it still. But it's a really beautiful way to celebrate together, to grieve together, to heal together and to restore relationship, when a relationship has been broken or harmed as well. For me, it's just a way of life now. I'm really grateful that I'm in circle a lot. Most of my life is in circle now. And I feel it brings out the best in me and the best in those around me.
Sara: Thank you. You brought up that part of the work and your experience with circle has been healing trauma and stepping into your own power. You talked a little to me before about that gift of darkness and how when that shows up in circle, we can hold that for each other in powerful ways. I wonder if you would share what you've learned in your practices with sitting with that darkness and facilitating. However that arises in circles, whether it's conflict or just pain. What have you learned through that?
Brenda: I think a lot about the analogies of the soil where seeds need to be buried in the soil. Babies are born in the dark womb, in the waters of the dark womb. So part of I think what I've learned is that part of honouring the sacred feminine or the feminine energy rising isn't about just women per se, although it is about honouring women and the role they play, for sure, as creators and givers of life, but also honouring that darkness -- that is the place that new things are born.
And honouring also that our shadow work is sacred too. The places that we have pain and suffering are places that are great teachers. When we hold them in the right way, when we're held in the right way. There I think a lot about how the teachers I've been taught by respect the cycle of life, and birth and death, and seeing death as a beautiful thing. I think about Thich Nhat Hanh and talking about how you know the Earth can help us compost things. And I know that my medicine teachers have taught me that too, that I can ask the earth, I can ask Mother Earth, I can ask trees to compost the things that no longer serve me.
So I think in the circles, we talk a lot about what no longer serves us, what do we want to release, what do we want to let go and it's been very powerful in the circle. What I've learned is that women in the safety of a circle like that, can go to some of their darkest rooms, their most deep pain around things, their beliefs about themselves that are not serving them and in fire ceremony they will throw those things into the fire, in whatever form it takes, perhaps writing it down on a piece of paper or making a ceremonial object that represents the thing that we want to release in the fire. And what it means to them to have their sisters either standing behind them with their hands on their back, or cheering them on in the way that they request, as they are releasing that thing, because we know it's hard to release those things sometimes. So there is something about like a passage, they create a safe space where we can look into our darkness and be supported to learn a lesson and release what we need to release energetically, that is sometimes made easier by being in the company of others who are doing the same, and that are encouraging you to release what you need to release.
I was really grateful when I was at East Bay Meditation Center that there were some beautiful people that made a gift of teaching some of the community there about restorative justice-circles and do training with board and staff and members. That was the biggest gift to the community because it means that muscle to be in conflict together in circle, when harm happens can be strengthened there, so that we can lean in together in those conflicts instead of breaking apart which is one thing Larry says a lot. "How do we break together instead of apart?" I think circle has the power, when it's held in a good way and the people come with good intention to restore a relationship, that circle has a lot of power to help us learn about where we're having difficulty with each other, and what that's trying to teach us.
Sara: Thank you. It's fascinating that circles are an ancient technology and also re-emerging as such a powerful space-holder -- I don't want to say "tool" exactly -- a powerful way for us to tap back into the wisdom of the circles. I'm thinking about how you...I love this quote from you that "We need to stop asking the systems that are dying for permission to start building the world that we want. We need to just start building that world together." I'm wondering if you can share more that you've found that it means to lead from this circle-based consciousness and to facilitate these circles for the kind of healing that we need right now.
Brenda: Well, first I just want to say that I feel really inspired by the Awakin community and just the dialogue that started there around gift economy because it's so aligned with a lot of the conversations I'm in. So a lot of gratitude for that and how much it's taught some of us who are also in that conversation. I think the other pieces -- anything that can be created that's new, that's created in circle with the wisdom of many is always going to be greater than anything that's created by any one person alone. Not because any one person is incapable or doesn't have good skills or insight, but just that there's something about creating something with a group of people that makes it more attentive to the needs of the whole.
So there's something for me about co-creating in circle that also allows for the co-emergent or the emergent to happen which is really beautiful. And there's this really beautiful and tricky dance about allowing something beautiful and new to emerge, but also not suppressing the wisdom and the gifts of the people who are in the circle. I think that's one of the lessons I've learned in the Moon Circle is that, you know, I told people from early on, I said, "I know I'm calling the circle. I know I have experience in circle practice, so I'm going to be teaching circle practice here, but the whole point is that this is not the Brenda Show. I want other people to lead here. I want us to have a potluck every time so we're sharing food. I need the circle as much as you do. So that's why I'm calling it.”
My belief is that, as people get more comfortable in circle culture, that a group of women will emerge that will co-hold this space, and that's happening now after a couple years which is really great. There's other women taking on posting about the circle, when it's coming up and doing the astrology updates about that moon, and there's other women saying "Hey I want to lead ceremony in the circle. Can I do that?" And I was like, "Of course you can." So we're actually going to meet tomorrow on the new moon to talk about what we want to do the rest of the year and who wants to lead which dates.
I know Awakin works a lot like this with a lot of volunteers and a lot of sharing and a lot of circle. So what I find is how beautiful it is because there's a lot more room for flow and beauty to arise in that situation. Because I can offer only so many things, and other people can offer other things. Other women have offered energy healing in that space. Other women have offered art, intuitive art projects and other things like that there. So I get to sit back and receive, too. I think there is something about learning how to give and receive and be in that flow and reciprocity that circle allows us, when it's done right. I've also been in circles where it doesn't really flow that way, so I'm really appreciative when I can feel that with those around me.
Sara: Yeah, I hear that. That relates to something we talked about in our earlier conversation about how there's a need for balance between the amount of structure that we offer to a space and then really being open to the unknown flow of emergence. So sometimes that balance is struck just right. How do you work with that balance? How do you try to arrive at the right combination of structure and just emergent flow?
Brenda: Yeah, I think, even when I'm introducing structure, especially early on when I was just calling circle, I also created a lot of space for people just to say that this is a rough draft and what do people think and how do you react to it and do you think there's things we should add or change and just being open to what comes up there. It's really, really important having that openness to listening to what people say and not necessarily chucking it away or dismissing it as not necessary because you didn't think of it is a really important piece. And checking in periodically just to see, "Is this still working?"
One of the things that Taj James taught me at Movement Strategy Center is that form should follow function. So when a group is early in building its relationship, it needs more storytelling, more relationship-building as its focus. As people gain trust, because he said for alliances and movement work, that it moves at the speed of trust. That for me really relates to the indigenous value of honoring relationships above the doing, really making that foundational.
I've been in lots of groups where the doing is the whole thing, and if relationships start getting broken and they're like, "Oh well. Let's keep doing," or "I'm sorry you can't do with us. We'll find someone else." There's the sense of people being replaceable or unimportant that I felt in some circles, So there is that openness I've seen modeled by elders in my life. I think that's been really key for me, is to see the modeling of elders who carry their power with a lot of humility and who don't pretend to know everything. I'm really glad that I've seen that a lot in my life. So I carry that, and I try to carry that in anything that I lead.
Sara: That's beautiful, and I know that honoring ancestors in general is very much part of how you live and that ancestors are very present for you and actively guiding, and you're attuned to that. Would you tell us more about your direct ancestors, your parents and how they've helped influence the path you're walking?
Brenda: Oh, I'd love to talk about that. Thank you. Because you know I think about that -- it's where I come from. So my mom and dad are Carlos and Esmeralda Salgado. They leave here in Daly City also in the Bay Area. I'm in Santa Andra, not too far. So they were born and raised in Nicaragua, and I do really believe that that's a big part of who I am even though I was born and raised here because they were raised in a very we-oriented culture where family takes care of each other and that's who they were raised by, by people that taught them that, especially my mom's side. So that's the world they grew up in.
I kind of saw the world as a we-oriented world until I hit the school system here in the United States, then I realized as a young kid, this is a very me-oriented place, and it made me really sad for people here, I have to say. As a little kid, I had a lot of sadness about that because it's not the truth of who we are. We're all connected. We all impact each other whether we know that or not.
My grandmother was an indigenous Nicaraguan woman. She died when I was a little girl. I only had a few contacts with her before she died. When I started doing ancestor honoring and healing ceremony and asking for more guidance and protection and support from my healthy ancestors, she's the one that first showed up and she started guiding me on the medicine path, told me that I came from a long line of healers and that I needed to step on that path and ask stories about her doing healing in the family in Nicaragua.
She also asked me very gently, very lovingly, she said, "Do you know there's things I want healed in the family that I'm very sad about.” Things that she wanted forgiveness from my mother for, healing with my aunt who was not well at the time. So all these little ways that she continues to do that. She's like, "Now I want you to do this." She's very gentle, but very persuasive about what needs healing in the family which I really appreciate. And an aunt who passed away is very active there and, more recently, I asked for a healthy male ancestor to step forward.
I want to really impress in the circle -- I'm sure there's lots of people who do good ancestor work -- so I want to honor those who are already honored. For those of you who may be curious about going down that path, I think it's important to honor and respect all of our ancestors because they gave us life, and then also to be careful when you're calling in for ceremony, for protection, for guidance, to call on the healthy ones because, just like we may have healthy and unhealthy family that are alive now, we may have have to have some boundaries with unhealthy ones, some loving boundaries.
We also have to have, I was taught by my teachers, to have healthy boundaries with healthy and unhealthy ancestors on the other side too. That's been a really big lesson for me because when I opened that door, I was connecting more and talking to ancestors. I did have one unhealthy ancestor come forward and kind of be really demanding about being on my altar and demanding about doing things for him that didn't feel quite right. When I asked an elder, they said, "Oh. He's not well. He has work to do on the other side. Pray on him to do that work because it will help him, and it will help you. But also be clear with him, 'I'm praying on you to do this work. I want a relationship with you, but I need you to go do your healing work. When you've done that, I would like to talk more, and I would like you to be one of my guides, but I can't accept your guidance until you do that." And that was a really -- because I come from a culture that's very respectful to elders, I had a lot of hesitation around it. I said, "I can say that to him?" and she said, "Yes. Say it respectfully and with love, but you have to have that boundary, that healthy boundary with him, just like you would with someone that's in your life right now that's is perhaps not well. I was really grateful for that teaching.
Sara: Thank you for sharing that. That’s reminding me on one of the prophecies that you shared with me about the analogy of the rabid animal. I wonder if you would would share that with us now?
Brenda: Sure, yeah. So Spirit has been giving me a lot of analogies for how to help people understand the times that we are in. And so one of the stories or images that was gifted to me was to imagine that I'm in a room, and there's a rabid animal in the other corner of the room. And being the person that I am, I have a lot of compassion and sadness for the animal because I know that they're dying. But I also know that their illness makes them very sick and very irrational and very dangerous. And that’s the nature of the illness that it wants to proliferate through that violence that the animal has due to the illness. So it wants to spread.
And while I might have compassion for that animal, I'm also not naive to think that I don't have to protect myself or be wary with that animal. And also, I have an understanding that there's no logical fact I can tell that rabid animal that I'm not a threat to it, that will make it stop seeing me that way, because it's the nature of its illness that it can't see any other way right now, and it feels threatened and violent towards everyone and everything.
And so if my friends were to come in the room a few minutes later, or my family, I would say, “Hey, FYI, before you start moving about the room, I want to let you know that there's a rabid animal in the corner over there.” And you know, we can have a conversation collectively about the compassion we have for this animal that’s dying, but also we have to have a conversation about how can we death-duel with that animal that is dying, with as much compassion and skillfulness as possible, so that we minimize the harm it does to itself and to everyone around it.
And that's a really interesting analogy for me around that we have some folks, as consciousness is rising in the planet, there is different people who are coming into their dignity, their beauty, their love, their gifts -- there are some who feel really threatened by that, because they're not moving in that direction. And they are either not attuned to the fact that they have healing work or to do or they have ancestral work to do. And they're lashing out because the world as they know it, is changing so quickly and they feel really threatened by that. Its changes that are making the world a better place, but that doesn't feel that way to that rabid animal that's afraid. So there's just a lot for me about how can we be loving and protective of each other and hold as much compassion as we can, and also move with skillfulness to protect one another in the face of danger.
Sara: That's very beautiful. I find that to be powerful along the lines of what you were saying about "...holding proper boundaries and still approaching with love and compassion." I'm curious. What would you say is a way that we -- what does it actually look like, to collectively come together, to care for these -- in this case -- these "rabid animals"?
Brenda: I think it's going to be different to each location, but I do think it's -- there's so many things I see that give me a lot of inspiration. I see the young people here in the US organizing around gun control and the recent school shootings and coming from a place of loving one another, protecting one another and standing up in defiance, but in a way that really is interconnected. I know that there is a lot of talk about how some of the young people talked about, "Well our school is getting this visibility because we're children of privilege or a particular race, and we have brothers and sisters in other parts of town who have lost people and they're not seen, so we'd like to lift up their voices and have them speak too about some of these issues.” So the way that they're responding as a family or across difference that I think is really powerful.
I think I've seen some just beautiful things. When folks in their state of fear are preparing to attack a Muslim center or something like that, there's Christians and Buddhists and other folks who will show up at that mosque, and form a circle around it and start praying and singing. And I know that I remember seeing something like that at Occupy New York where Muslim folks were doing their daily prayers and folks of other traditions circled around them so they could pray uninterrupted. So I think about that a lot, how we hold space for each other and for those who, for whatever reason, are less threatened by the system, make very public their sense of family with others and stand in that name of love in a way that's defiant but in a way that's very visible, too. I feel grateful that we're growing up in these times that we have more connection across difference than we've ever had, and how do we lean into that with a lot of love and a lot of courage for those who want to keep us separated.
Sara: That reminds me of what you shared from Adrienne Marie Brown -- The opportunity we have is to create a space that's irresistible to others to come join. It sounds like that's the building of the new way as the old way is in the process still of transitioning, in parallel we're creating that irresistible space.
Brenda: Yeah and I think it has the power to draw. You know, a lot of people who are disillusioned and weary from the system, suffering from the systems that we've been under, if they see something that isn't perfect but is moving from a different energy and a different place, a place of more connection to each other, to the earth, people are drawn to that. And I think, yeah, I do believe that there's people who their role that they came in here karmically with, was to bring down the things that don't serve any more in this time of transition.
But I also think that there's a lot of us that came in to build the new and to do that with each other and that is the time. It's always been the time, but there's something about the shifts in consciousness that are happening that we're seeing some acceleration with these things which is really beautiful; to see so many different things arising out new relationships, new connections, new circles, and to see what wants to emerge.
Sara: Beautiful. Beautiful. You've shared about the value of being the change you wish to see in the world and that's a practice that's near and dear to the heart of ServiceSpace. Along these lines of being you're coming in, many of us are coming in to build this new world together. How do you personally practice bringing consciousness to embodying the change you want to see, including the way that you work?
Brenda: One for me is really starting with a daily morning practice of particular affirmations, prayers, intentions about being in service in this time, and being in my energetic sovereignty as I move through this world, trying to hold that higher vibration, but also holding compassion for people for whatever vibration they're at, and discernment.
One of the big things I keep sharing with people is about moving away from judgment and shaming and moving more towards discernment around whether there's alignment or not and whether you feel valued and you value others in the relationship. So really paying attention to that energy of that relationship in the circle is, I think, is important. So that's one thing.
I think the other is, I know for me right now part of what keeps me in a good way is finding the things that help me keep in that vibration, so the morning practices are one of them. Because I do a lot of healing work and helping people release a lot of heavy energy around their personal and ancestral trauma, it's important for me to be clearing and releasing as much as possible and protecting my boundaries energetically, so I'll go do salt baths pretty regularly. I'll lie on the earth a lot and ask her to take what no longer serves me. The earth has been my big friend a lot and the water as well in helping me stay in the energy that I want to stay in.
And I think the other is, we think a lot of about what we take in food wise. Is it organic? Is it healthy? Is it a good, balanced diet -- all these things to try and stay healthy. I love that Thich Nhat Hanh talked about how we shouldn't just pay attention to what we're taking in, in terms of food and water. We also have to be attentive to what we're taking in energetically. So that means the news that we watch, the media that we watch, because all of that carries energy. The movies that we watch and the energy that that carries, is it contributing to more violence and fear in the world?
So one of the reasons that I love Awakin and other places I know that are trying to put out other media. Spirit is very clear with me when I'm on Facebook, like -- I'm not a huge fan of Facebook, but I understand the role it has in relationship building and communication across difference. So I'm on there largely because Spirit's telling me to post high vibration things, because there's such a sea of heaviness and pain and sorrow and anger.
Anger has its place. Part of the role of the feminine is both the Guan Yin, the compassionate, loving mother energy. But there also is this energy of Kali too, right? Some things need to be taken down. The fierceness of a mama bear defending her cubs -- for me, when we exercise more of that Kali energy or more of that Pelé energy, are we doing it for the next seven generations? Are we doing it out of love for the whole, as opposed to from a place of ego. So really, I think, checking that for myself, too, when I do get angry which is pretty rare, but when I do, I have to check, "Where is that coming from?" It's usually out of a sense of protection of someone or something that is being threatened by something that doesn't understand or is doing that intentionally. So just being in that inner awareness, mindfulness, meditation, spending time in nature -- I think all these things can help us move into our heart, to really be aware of our monkey mind, and how it wants to take us down rabbit holes that keep us from being in service in the ways that we want. And always coming back to yourself.
I think that we've been taught a lot of self-judgment and shame, and that's why we judge and shame in the world. So starting with a lot of self-love and self-practice so that we can be in the place we want to be, and then being in both our power and in our humility with other people, so we can create with them, finding that balance; and knowing if we tend more towards taking over and taking up too much space, to step back; and if we tend to be really quiet because we're insecure, to step forward more with our wisdom because it's needed. Everybody's wisdom is needed right now.
Sara: Thank you. A lot of what I'm hearing there is -- I mean, thank you for sharing your personal practices, too, because I think many of us can benefit from knowing what we can try. Laying on the earth is such a beautiful way to release. And you spoke earlier about fire ceremony as another way to release what is no longer needed. In general, you're speaking of ceremony. I wonder if you could share a little about just what do you mean by being in ceremony?
Brenda: That's such a good question. It's one that's been really on my mind a lot because I feel like sometimes I'm invited to a lot of very traditional ceremony, which I love and I'm really humbled and respectful in. And I also feel like, in the Moon Circle, the women sometimes are co-creating new ceremony together, and it's really beautiful, but with a lot of reverence and respect, too. So for me, it means entering into a different time and space, and I feel like most circle is like that for me too.
So whenever I'm in ceremony, what marks it for me is, any time I'm doing anything like that, I'm calling the directions, I'm calling for the support of all the elements in the universe. I'm also calling in my healthy ancestors and I'm asking people to call in their healthy ancestors. And then we're, in some way, about either calling in something we want, or releasing something we don't want, or some combination thereof, or we're celebrating something we want to celebrate together and honor together. So for me, it really is stepping out of the material world for a moment to really be in sacred time together, and that means different things to different people.
But it means being really, really present with each other, really present with those beings. One of the things, when I'm doing healing ceremony with someone, I will say, "Let's work with the roses" in this way that this grandmother taught me in Mexico, to help people release trauma. But after we do the sweeping with the roses, and then they're also calling in their spirit home that's been lost, that they're calling in, they're healing and proclaiming self-love, self-care, self-respect as their path moving forward. After we do that, I'll ask them to ask -- "You know, we've got this sacred container where we are connected to the All that Is, and in a very intentional way. So what do we want to ask for for our communities?"
And that's always such a beautiful space for me. Some are calling in love, abundance, joy, dancing, music, healthy food, all these things. And what I always say at the end of that, is that from the teachings that I've gotten from numerous teachers is that we don't create things on this material plane. They started out at a different plane and then they manifest down here. There's different ways that people have accessed that way of manifesting. So for me being in ceremony is also about being in partnership with the greater cosmos to bring something good into being in the universe and to release or destroy the things that no longer serve humanity -- that never served humanity in some cases -- but that don't serve us now. And we're prepared to take that step of saying, "This doesn't serve. We want to release it." And knowing that we're supposed to do that in partnership with each other and with greater energies and that we're not supposed to do it alone, that manifestation is in co-creation with the universe and with each other.
It's about unlearning that myth of pathological individualism, that we're all alone and we have to do it all by ourselves. So I know that's not very ceremonial language but, for me what it is really is about opening to that greater mystery in whatever form that takes for us and both asserting the beauty that we want, and want to co-create with that mystery, but also the things we want to release with the support of that mystery, that we're not alone in trying to do all this beautiful work, that we want to be in alignment with that, with that good energy of love, that good energy of bringing good things into being, and to honor the fruits of the darkness, to honor that that has something to teach us too. Part of, I think, a shift in consciousness is moving away from the duality of good-bad-evil, you know all those things. Us versus them, to one of unity consciousness, love consciousness. But also not losing the gifts of the diversity in that unity consciousness. I think sometimes the unity consciousness can go too quickly to trying to make everything the same when the different pieces of the ecosystem have different gifts and wisdom to share.
Sara: That’s a beautiful explanation and that piece about not losing the gifts of diversity reminds me of how in the end of the last century, there was a lot of talk about melting pot. How this country was a melting pot. Really we're recognizing it more and more, that melting pot, kind of, does not honour those difference as much as maybe it’s just a rich stew with a lot of different ingredients!
Brenda: Or a really yummy tossed salad! It’s all nature, right? You are not asking a tomato to become a piece of lettuce, you know. Because a tomato adds something different. It’s supposed to! Yeah, I like that.
Sara: I love tossed salads! That’s great. So you're speaking of, you know, this is a time when we are really moving away from that individualism, feeling like we have to do things alone, and that really the opportunities are largely for doing things collectively. Here in the Bay Area, we are so blessed to have such strong community, and in thinking about people in other parts of the country and world that might not have that community available so locally. But you know there are ways to tap into, and you even mentioned Facebook. Facebook has been used in some positive ways with building community. There are communities like ServiceSpace which are inclusive and available to everyone. What would you say about navigating that collectivity, locally and/or virtually?
Brenda: Wow - there is so much there. I feel like I've been part of so many communities and some I’ve had to leave with a lot of love and grace and gratitude for what it taught me. But also sometimes there is, embodied around the values they have, that they...And you know, every...we're all trying things on, so it sometimes take a little while to stick.
But I would tell people to look at the diversity of the group, if you could, if it is like a more global one or a national one, but just that it honors different people. Because it usually says something if it is very monoculture, about the unspoken things or the unconscious things, I think.
I think people these days often try to put out a kind of values, agreement, things like that. So it’s good to review those if they have them; and to ask if they have them, if you don't see them. So that you can see where there is structure and clarity around these things, where there is openness to, you know, shifting and growing together. And the other piece is to just try things on and and to trust that, you know, that energy and your intuition about things.
Because there have been groups that I’ve been a part of for a while, that I loved, and then for whatever reason, I just didn't fit anymore and I had to move on with a lot of love and sometimes that’s been….And the other thing is to know that you're both going to contribute and you're both going to learn and receive things from these communities. So there's been places where even when I’ve left, I've had to separate where have I been unskillful, what do I need to apologize for, what did I not do well, you know. What did I learn and what I want to be grateful for, as I'm transitioning out of the place or this group of people -- where do we have alignment, where do we not have alignment around things that we're trying to do together.
Yeah, just being in your own personal practice, so that you can have that discernment. And try to meet everything with love. No matter how it appears. Even in our circle, the thing we have to remember is that we all are carrying our gifts and our learning, but we're also all carrying our trauma. And so I've also seen lots of groups where people’s prior trauma played out in connection with people in their community, especially their leaders. So yeah, being open to both you know -- the giving and the receiving, and the learning and the teaching as you move into these spaces
Yeah, and to trust your intuition about what's best for you because I do feel like different spaces are for different people, and you know, they're at different places of their own development. That's neither right or wrong -- it's just where they are. So yeah, just to ask questions. If you know people who are part of the community, that's always great, if you can talk to people across the community. I think those things are really important to ask about -- what their vision is for the world, and what their values are, about how they work together.
Sara: And I'm thinking of something you said earlier about energetic sovereignty, maintaining that energetic sovereignty of yourself and the discernment and then that intuition will guide. That’s beautiful. There was a question I wanted to ask you about your experience with gift ecology So you received a message from Spirit about leaving a job that you loved so you might start something new. And for a time, you were working completely within gift ecology, no financial price tag attached. What was your experience of that?
Brenda: An interesting time, because I think for a little over a year when I left this particular job that Spirit told me to leave...So it’s funny. You’ve been doing the spiritual work, the healing and the teaching on the side for so long and you bring it into the jobs you do, but now it needs to be your primary, you know, identity in the world, as part of your transition now. And so I was really happy. I was doing a lot of gift economy healing stuff, a free healing clinic that was meeting once a month, just a lot of different circle work and things that were...
I would meet a need from different people. And some people could give me a lot, some people couldn't give me anything. But the people who were able to give me a lot, that made it possible for me to see the other people, so I was really grateful for that. A lot of reciprocity and also understanding that it wasn't a one for one thing, you know. If I give you this, you need to give me that later. Sometimes the abundance came from another direction. If I was generous here, a reciprocity came from another direction of the universe, a different person. And trusting in that flow!
So it was one of the happiest times in my life, I have to say, because I felt really in the flow and really in synchronicity with the universe and really supported by community in ways that weren’t always financial. People would bring me food, people would bring me medicine gifts, because they knew that I loved that and it was very valuable to me in a different kind of way. People would take me out places. People supported me to go to Standing Rock. Things like that.
It also was a difficult time because you know I'm married and I love my husband, he’s a wonderful guy. And you know we both have always worked for non-profits, so neither one of us has made the kind of money where we could pay our bills with just one salary and so it was really hard for us, month to month. You know, knowing if we’re going to have the resources to pay our bills, you know? We're in one of those moments again, I have to say, since I left my last job.
So there was a really interesting time there of being in that trust with the universe and saying you know...And other people would offer me jobs that were in alignment with the old thing that I was doing. And Spirit would say, “No, you're not supposed to take that job.” And I remember at one point being at my altar and I thought -- I think this is really funny and I laugh about it a lot. I went to the altar and I said, “Look ancestors, you told me to leave that work behind. People keep offering me jobs in that area. You tell me you want me to be doing this work. I need you to bring me paid resources that are in alignment with what you want me to be doing. Because my family needs to not struggle, you know.” And I remember getting a request to apply for a job couple of days after that, that was in alignments with more of the spiritual and the gift economy world, and being really surprised and grateful for that, and kind of laughing at myself that I didn't ask sooner. That I let myself struggle a lot more
There's a lesson in that for me too -- that I have to be willing to receive. I notice that it’s one of those places where I closely have to work on. I'm very generous with others and I have to always look at whether I'm allowing people give to me too. And that’s both a self-love thing but it's also if you really want to be in reciprocity with the universe, it's really important to pay attention to the vulnerability and the love that we let ourselves receive from others and also how much ego work is at work there.
Because when I was really sick one time, I let my husband, he was helping me a lot. And I don't normally ask him a lot for help. I ask my family a lot for help and women, but not so much my husband. That was a really interesting lesson to me because he said to me, when I got better, “I don't want you to be mad but it felt really good when you were that sick” and he said I want to explain what I mean. He said it felt really good to take care of you. You are this woman who's doing all these good things in the world and helping other people and community, but it's the first time you really let me take care of you. He said I know you love me, but I don't feel like you need me, and that was the first time I felt really needed by you. And that really in my heart, I was crying after that for the courage that it took to share that with me. And he said, “You know, I don't want you to be half-dead for me to feel needed by you.”
And that was a really big lesson for me because when I sat in meditation with that, two things came up for me. It makes me feel really good to help other people, and I imagine that's true for people in ServiceSpace too, if you're in this community. And to the extent that I don't let other people help me, I'm being really selfish because I'm not letting them have that experience of being in service. If that makes me feel good, why would I deny that to other people?
And then the other piece I think that was really profound for me too was that I was creating a power imbalance in our relationship that I didn't want. If one person is more often the helper and one is more often the helpee, there isn't flow and reciprocity there energetically. And so I ask my husband for things more now, than I used to. And that's both to love myself and let myself be helped but also to honour that he’s got a lot of gifts and he should have that joy as well.
Pavi: That’s a profound insight to come to, and in such a gentle and authentic way. What a beautiful first portion of this conversation and we've come to that time where we open up the line for callers to add in their questions to the queue. We already have several that have come in online. Just a reminder to those listeners who do have a question that they’d like to ask Brenda, you can press star six and you will be prompted when it's your turn. If you’d like to send in a question online, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brenda, one question that I wanted to ask you, before we go to some of the others is that it seems so natural to you to be able to come to, almost like the way we would, you know, pick up the phone and call someone, to call on your ancestors, to receive messages the trees, to be in communication with animal Spirits and the earth. For people who may not….So two questions. The first part is when did you first recognize that capacity within yourself, are there any experiences early on that you had that opened those avenues? And then the second part of the question is for those listening and those in the ecosystem who may not have that immediate access to those avenues, what is your advice to those who would like to start to be able to fall into that deeper listening?
Brenda: Good question, because I do have to remind myself not to take that for granted, for other folks, because I’ve heard that before! I’ve always talked to animals and trees since I was a kid. I'm really grateful for that. However, there were times in my life where, you know, I either got depressed or I got busy and it didn’t last, so I had to come home to it.
So there's a tree meditation that I do every morning, which I try not to forget, because it affects me that day. But I sit with a tree, either looking at it from inside, through the window, or I’m sitting with it, and what I'm doing is asking it to help me. Trees have this way of being connected with the earth, connecting with the heavens. From many traditions, they’re considered sacred and wise in that way that they can connect across.
And so I'll breathe in their connection to the earth, connection to the cosmos and I’ll ask them to help me with unity consciousness, with grace and love, with ease, with compassion, all those things. And I think about how trees provide a home for other beings, birds nests and insects, and also how we use them to build our homes, and other things. They give us fruit, they give us medicine, and I think about how generous they are and what an example they are for us, in that regard. And also how they go through stages of life, but you know they're a seedling, they’re a big tree and they grow and they die, just like humans do. So there’s just so many lessons. And then they go through the seasons, they shed their leaves without -- they don't resist release the way we do! They let the leaves go. So I think about them in that sense as being a wise teacher, and I ask them, as I'm breathing in, to give me some of that wisdom, some of that unity consciousness and then when I'm breathing out, I ask them to compost and take in what doesn’t serve me being in my best self, my highest self, my unity consciousness. And there's an analogy to that with oxygen and carbon dioxide, right? Our waste product is what feeds them and they kick back out from that what we need. So I think about that in terms of consciousness too, and that flow of giving them what is my waste that I don't need any more and asking them to give me what I need. And a lot of times when I'm doing that, I'll get messages about -- today you need to work on self-judgment or judgment of yourself or judgment of others, you know. Sometimes I’ll just get little messages like that but just being around the tree is just -- I think that they are just really wise teachers, for one.
And then the piece around ancestral worship, I do want to say that one of the things that helped me...I’ve always got messages from Spirit but I don't think I really understood the separation of that from ancestors. And when I was older and started reading Thich Nhat Hanh books and going to the people of color retreats at Deer Park, one of the books I picked up had this ceremony called the ‘Five Touchings of the Earth’, where you're honoring, through your touching of the Earth and in the ceremony, your spiritual ancestors, your blood ancestors, ancestors and the beings that came on the land before you, your loved ones and your friends. And the last one is compassion and forgiveness for those who have caused you and your loved ones harm. In that ceremony, the piece around your biological ancestors, you're offering a lot of gratitude and compassion for the struggles they had in their own humanity, and you are also asking for forgiveness and protection.
And I think, for me, it was like picking up a phone, like you said. For me, my ancestors were always there, waiting for me to call. I always say it’s like having a grandma halfway across the country, like God, I wish I could give her a call. I really miss her, you know. And then I picked the phone and called and I started doing that. I did that ceremony for seven days in a row on my fortieth birthday and it felt like something clicked with my grandmother. She was like OK, she's calling me, I'm going to start showing up more now. And there was a lot of like -- I think if you don't call your grandmother for years and you pick up the phone, she wants to tell you everything on that first phone call. Like Oh my God,I haven't talked to you for so long! There was some energy of that in the beginning when I opened that door, and I had to learn how to have healthy boundaries. That I can't talk right now, grandma, you know? Or that she would come to me in meditation, she would come to me in my dreams, which was beautiful, and I actually didn't know how to manage a healthy boundary with that in the beginning. I was getting messages all the time and writing them down in a journal all the time.
So that’s the other thing I tell people, if you open that door, do it with healthy boundaries. You know? That you have the authority to say tonight I would love messages from my ancestors in my dreams, please come. My healthy ancestors, I should say. Or tonight, I would like to sleep deeply and I really would like to not be interrupted because I'm getting over the flu. Please no messages tonight. And to know that you have authority to say that, you know. You have the capacity to say that, just like you do when you look at your phone and somebody’s calling you, you look at the caller ID and say, Oh, I can’t talk to her right now. I'm going to let it go to voicemail, you know?
Pavi: This is beautiful, we already have a series of callers in the queue, and I want to get to all of them so I’m gonna go to our first one now.
Gayathri: Hi! Hello, Brenda! My name is Gayathri and I’m calling from Chennai in the South of India. And thank you! I’m just loving this call so much. So the question I have for you is around the topic of the wounded feminine and I think of, you know, how I grew up, with my mother kind of encouraging me to go get a career and study and get a job and get my financial independence, because that's how the world saw value. Because all the things that she was doing all the time, which is, you know, feeding us, cleaning and cooking -- all the nurturing aspects of the feminine were not being valued, and there was such a deep wound to that. And so, you know, all the things I used to do, like gardening and all that, I neglected, to run off and get an academic credential, and then I found that kind of empty.
So I've been spending the last two years kind of reconnecting to what I think of as the good aspects of the feminine. But you know I still struggle with the fact that, I don't think in the outside world, like you said, that it's not valued as much, this doesn't pay. Forget paid, there is also not as much respect, and I think this wound is also trans-generational because I think there is a lot of anxiety, even from my female relatives about why you're wasting your life. So I've just been struggling and thinking about this so much. But this is also connected to the fact that wherever I worked and studied, I thought women were so much more hyper-masculine, because you know they were so fearful of all the kinds of hurt that has come from all the years of not valuing the feminine. And so you have all this -- how do you deal with this? What would you recommend to listeners and what are your practices?
Brenda: Thank you for that question. It’s a very profound one and it speaks to how much decolonizing we have to do. Because the indigenous cultures that I've been taught by, you know there's a real strong valuing of the feminine as life-bearers and connectors to earth in ceremony, but that's not true for most of society around the world now, because it’s been drowned out so I really appreciate this question.
I do want to share that when grandma called me on the medicine path and then I left my job and started learning all this medicine years ago, my mom got really scared. We were raised Catholic because that was the colonizing religion in Central America. And the funny thing is I loved Jesus when I was a kid. I was super-spiritual, talking to Jesus all the time. So I didn't have a problem with the different kind of ascendant masters or teachers that came to see us from different traditions. I had more problem with how people use their messages to control others.
And I said that as a kid. I said I talk to God all the time, he's not angry and judgemental, as you think he is. Talk to him more often because they're misunderstanding him, I wasn't angry, just that they're misunderstanding him. A funny thing to say as a kid! But you know, fast forwarding through adulthood, like you, I went the academic path. I got a graduate degree in animal behaviour and that world, it wasn't right for me. And then I went to the social justice world like we're going to bring spirituality and healing in that world. So you know, I’ve always been kind of doing this feminine work incognito, in different fields.
But then leaving and really standing in it -- I remember my mom, you know, it was easy for her to accept partly because my grandmother said I need to ask your mom’s forgiveness about something, and she wouldn’t tell me what it was. And she said my mom would know and and she did. And she said I'm not angry with her, you know, there’s nothing to forgive. But because of that my mom understood that this was a real thing for me. But she was being approached by some of her sisters at the time who were really really deeply Catholic and still are and were freaked out that I was going down the path of witchcraft, wasting my life, all these things that you're talking about.
My mom felt a lot of anxiety around that, and came to me -- I don't know what to say to them, I don't know what to say to them, I don't know how to, you know? And I said, you know, mom, there's nothing to defend. I said I'm not rejecting the Spanish part of me or the Catholic side of me but there's another part of me that belongs to your mother's lineage that was suppressed and carries its own wisdom. And I want to love all of it. I'm just reclaiming the parts that were thrown away. But I'm not rejecting those. I need you to know that that I love all of who I am, and I'm not hating any part of myself anymore. I said, secondly, I think there's nothing you can say rationally that's going to make them understand, and they're not ready to hear that their mother is actually guiding me on this. Because she taught them some medicine and they’d forgotten.
I said that they're not going to change by what you say, they're going to be changed by being in ceremony with me in some way. And the experience of being around it and experiencing me differently, that's what's going to change them. Not any facts that I give them or that you give them. So I said whenever this conversation comes up, I said I want you to know that this is between me and them, not you and them. And what I'd like you say is Brenda really loves you; she's really really happy and would really love to talk to you about this, when you're ready and then drop it. Change the subject. So that happened a little bit and it kind of cooled this thing between her and her sisters.
And then a short time after that, my uncle died. He was their youngest brother, and I have to say he wasn't very well when he was here. He always drank a lot, he wasn’t always respectful to his wife, before they separated or to his child. So he had a lot of unwellness in his own ways. But when he died, of course, some of his sisters, some of them were super-paralyzed with grief, and my grandmother told me who go over there and do a circle ceremony with them. Just to say that I want to do a little healing ceremony about their brother dying, my uncle. And you know she told me to make the altar more Christian and less indigenous-y so they could receive it. And to ask them to put pictures of those who had departed in the family, that were going to be receiving him on the other side and to have them share stories of him when he was a child, the things they loved about him, and then to give him some plant medicine, some rosewater, some sage. different things to help them ease their grief. And at the end of that, the ones who were most paralyzed with grief, they said, Wow, this is what you do. This isn’t evil.
I said, I know, and now I feel like I'm ready to tell you that grandmother, your mother is the woman guiding me from the other side on this. And she told me to do these healings for the family and she also asked me to ask you, as the oldest one, what kind of plants do you use, because my mother doesn't remember, you know, she's younger. And so that started a whole other dialogue! And now, they're really Catholic, and I'm really into my Indigenous medicine and there’s no conflict between us. And they’ll call me when they're not feeling well and ask for some healing, you know. But there is room for it all together now. And some of that was about experiencing me differently, as loving and spacious and offering healing to them when they were not well, and that opened up the space for a bigger dialogue.
Yeah, and I hope that's helpful. I mean it's hard when you don't have the support of your family. And also I just hold a lot that the women of our lineages -- this goes really far back ancestrally, the teachings that they've been given about suppressing their feminine wisdom and their feminine power because generations back women were killed for that.
Pavi: Thank you. I’d like to just in the interest of time, go on to the next caller. Thank you, Gayathri.
Kathy: Hi, I'm sorry, my name is Kathy Walker. I live in Vermont. I have been blessed to live close to the earth for many years. I have been blessed to be in a women's circle, twenty years ago that made my life so rich. And I am an astrologer, and I also work in the everyday world. And I have been recently guided to start a women’s circle at a yoga studio with a lot of younger women and my soul leapt and trembles. And as I'm reviewing and listening to you revealing things, I’m just asking for any guidance or wisdom you may have in trying to create that trust, so that the circle can keep spiraling. How do we, how do you open the door to women?
Brenda: Well I think having agreements about how you're going to hold space together are always really important. To allow people to add to them because sometimes people bring new agreements that they think are valuable. I think the other thing that has been really conscious on my part with my circle is that I'm very intentional about the images I use on all my materials that they represent a diversity of women. Most mindfulness stuff, most sacred feminine stuff, they tend to be young, thin, white women running in the ocean (laughter). And that’s a beautiful face of the sacred feminine but it is also part of the unconsciousness, right? That we see the sacred feminine in a particular way and the sacred feminine is present in so many cultures.
So really welcoming that diversity, welcoming that it is going to change the shape of how you do things, that would be a really valuable lesson from East Bay Meditation Center. And I think one of the things that I would recommend is in this beautiful book by Larry Yang called Awakening Together, but it is about his experience of co-creating East Bay Meditation Center with other people, and what it means to build diversity in community and trust in a diverse community. I feel I have learnt so much from the teachers of East Bay Meditation Center.
Kathy: Have you ever heard of a book called Circle of Stones by Judith Duerk? It is vintage feminine from the eighties but that I didn't know if you're familiar with it at all. I guess that's it and if you wouldn't mind saying a prayer?
Pavi: We will close the call with that. Thank you for your call and I’m going to go on to the next caller. Brenda, we do have 3 or more questions. So not to rush you in anyway but just so that you’re holding that in your awareness. I’d just like everyone to get a chance…
Brenda: Fabulous. Ok!
Matthew: Hi there. This is Mathew from California. Brenda, you’ve talked quite a bit about ancestor work. I have a ring from my grandfather who passed away when I was very young and my intuition is saying there's something to this ring connected to him. So my question is how to communicate with ancestors particularly if we cannot perceive them. It sounds like you have quite a bit of experience with your perception of the ancestors, but what is your advice for someone like myself who doesn't currently have a perception of ancestors? And also if you find it related to tradition? That’s the main question -- I'm also wondering if traditions of yoga also do this kind of work, but I’m not sure if we have time for that.
Brenda: I always encourage people to see if they can find the traditions of their -- if they can look back in their ancestry, what is the indigenous tradition of where they came from? Because often time they have things that you can find, which I think is really cool. The other is that I have an altar and I have pictures of my ancestors on there. Particular healthy ones that I get guidance from. So I would say if you have an altar, put the ring on the altar, if you can. And also when you're in prayer at the altar just say I invite more relationship with you.
And if you want that to come through the dream time, the dream time is one of the best ways for them to access us because our mind is not in the way. Our waking mind is not in the way. So I encourage people to invite their healthy ancestors to visit them in their dreams if they're able, and also to keep a journal by your bed so that if something comes through. If I don't write it right when I wake up, I will lose it pretty quickly. So I try to be really conscious about recording those things. Yeah and also just to say that different people experience different ways. I have relatives who see ancestors. I've never seen them but I feel their emotions and they sometimes give me messages, so to be open that it can come in different ways. And sometimes they may be little things. Like you know my friend says when she sees a particular butterfly or a hummingbird she know that it's her father visiting her from the other side, so sometimes the messages come from nature too.
Pavi: Wonderful. There is another question from Brooklyn where Mish asked a similar thing about how to contact the ancestors and it answered her question. She sends a lot of gratitude. A question from Adonia, one of the two questions that she asked is how do you think the economy can follow earth-based feminine consciousness?
Brenda: The economy?
Brenda: It is a good question, I love that. I feel really grateful to a friend of mine named Conda Mason who has been thinking about, who has just recently started bringing together spiritual women who have wealth with the wisdom keepers of different traditions, to talk in circle about how we bring that conversation into the economy, which I think is really beautiful. I'm really grateful to be a part of that small circle. I also see gift economy cooperatives, time banking and exchanges, things like that are all aspects of bringing the circular and the feminine into the economy.
I also have been seeing people who are really intentionally trying to focus conversations in the socially-responsible investing world around supporting startups that are led by women, led by people of color, led by people who don’t typically...who we are supposed to be investing in. And it happens that the people who hold the wealth as well as the people who are being invested in, still tend to be very un-diverse. And so really pushing our thinking about what does it mean to restore reciprocity at a larger scale.
I think what Spirit has been telling me to focus on the most is land. That it's really important for people of colour, indigenous people to be buying up land. Not to own, but to steward for these healing and retreat centers, for gift economy, for housing for those who are serving these type of transitions, for teaching about connecting the earth and ancestors, and for resurrecting and connecting people to elders who carry this wisdom from different racial lineages, different cultural lineages. So that we understand that it doesn't just belong to one group of people, just may have been broken longer in one lineage, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist back there.
Pavi: Beautiful. I think we do have a couple more questions. Maybe very, very quickly before our final question. One of the inquiries that came in was around, you know, you talked a lot about the importance and significance of setting skillful boundaries, with love rather than fear. And this is a question from India, which is, you know -- “All the rabid, wounded animals I've met I wanted to run away from, even if I felt a twinge of compassion and so what would be your advice in terms of how to approach those situations.”
Brenda: I really appreciate that she said that because sometimes we aren't meant to run toward them (laughs). There is this balance that we have to find in tending to ourselves and caring for ourselves and serving others. And there's times, I think, as a healer where I know that I'm well and I can see a bunch of people. And other times when I am not well and I choose not to see people for a while. So to trust your intuition around what is best for you. And to know that sometimes it's to release people with love and pray on them from afar. That can be our highest service at times. I feel like I'm in a place now where I can approach difficult people that I couldn't have twenty years ago, and I think some of that is what I've been taught about energetic boundaries and sovereignty and self healing. But I am also learning more and more about how to leave when love is not being served by me staying.
Pavi: Looks like that is an important skill of discernment that you’ve honed. Thank you for that. Our final question, this is one that we ask all of our guests and then I'll turn it over to Sara for our Gratitude and we’ll go into a moment of silence. The question, Brenda, is how can we, as the Awakin and broader ServiceSpace ecosystem help support and further your vision and work in the world?
Brenda: Thank you, that is such a generous question. So a group of women and I are going to be gathering soon. So I was told by these trees that called me a long time ago to start a Moon’s circle, a women’s circle and and a healing circle, but also I was told that, many years from then, I would be purchasing a very large piece of land near there, to serve in this way and to be this healing center and help some of our elders who can’t stay here in the Bay Area, all these things, support those who are at risk right now. That land has made itself known to me. It is fifty-eight acres and we're going to be fundraising to buy that land, so if people are interested in supporting that way, that would be a huge gift. And then the other is start circles wherever you are, for all people. Circle are very powerful for transformation. And support circles where you are too, if they are already there.
And then the other is I really do encourage people to develop whatever connection they can to the land and those we share this Earth with, because they have a lot of wisdom for us in this time, and they want to help us, if we can slow down a little and listen, especially with the ancestors. Any of those pieces I think would be the greatest gift in this time.
Sara: Brenda thank you so much for sharing your wisdom today and your time and your example of energetic sovereignty. It's been a real joy to be in community with you and may this be the beginning of an ever-deepening relationship and coming together of our community.
Brenda: May it be so!
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