Rhythms of Marama.

By Rachel Pearson
Apr 2017

My name is Rachel, and I am a daughter of the Divine through the lineages of the Pearson, Zame, Vella, Calder clans.  My high places are Panekire Bluff and the Kaweka Ranges, my watery places are Lake Waikaremoana and the Tutaekuri River.  In this life, through the lineages of the Pitcher, Correa, Friis whānau, I’ve conceived, carried, and birthed 4 children alive onto this earthly plane and 4 others who have ventured on elsewhere.  My experiences of each of them, coupled with my own cell to soul level re-births each time, continue to guide and define vast tracts of my Being, here, now.

Lake Waikaremoana from Panekiri bluff

I’ve always, in all ways, connected deeply to Being in female form.  And I’ve made it a priority to delve into releasing inherited and collected tapes, instead Being driven by the practise of intuiting and Self-determining my relationship with The Women’s Mysteries.  One part of which has been a lifelong commitment to getting really good at witnessing, charting, and actualising the rhythm of my Being, attempting to honour my authentic state, at any given singular point, within the wax and wane of the physical, energetic, emotional, mental, and spiritual layers of my inward and outward perceptions of life.

The longevity of choosing to make decisions around the investment of energy and foci by going with my flow created a well spring of curiosity within me.  Who else realised the dominant culture of 24/7 was devolving at best, killing at worst, itself?  How could I prove the voracity of my energetic phase was not only ‘productive enough’ but improved by my commitment to a resting phase?  What practices could I enliven to further enhance my lay understanding of the cyclical nature of these energetics?

In this quest I found myself winging my way to into the peak of the Australian Summer to sit in circle with revered maga, Jane Hardwicke Collings.  An independent midwife, mother and grandmother, Jane founded The School of Shamanic Womancraft in 2009 and now teaches the Women’s Mysteries by writing books and delivering workshops globally, see accompanying details for her offerings in Aotearoa in May.  And this is what came to light.

Jane is holding a Shamanic principles pregnancy workshop in May – more details here:

Jane how would you describe the energetics of our current way of Being within the context of a Sun focused paradigm?

We live in a patriarchal culture and what that looks like is the masculine principle or energy is the dominant perspective, or map, the accepted and preferred, encouraged, and nurtured way; the way things are predominately measured by and ruled from, and this has some benefits and some extreme consequences.  One of the benefits this way has given us is the reductionist perspective, so that we now as a culture can understand the minutest detail of things.  The hazard of that has been that we have lost the whole and the holistic perspective by being so narrowly focussed.  This masculine way has with it the judgment, expectation, need and desire for production, action, the daylight, the on and up all the time and we are learning as a culture that this is actually not sustainable.

We see this most obviously in the way agriculture is handled with the demand of the land to produce and produce without the so obvious and not that ancient practice of letting land lay fallow and rest.  We continue to force production at the peril of what actually happens, where land becomes nutrient depleted and even sterile without the rest phase required for the recovery of production. And we see that same process happening everywhere and so often in attitudes that influence everything from education to health to daily practise and expectation of life. Our focus on the up and on, the peak experience being the only one that matters and the reluctance to accompany the cycle (that is happening whether we are paying attention to it or not) into the descent.  To be in a space of the rest phase in order to recover, replenish, rejuvenate, and renew.

So, with an on and up all the time way of Being what we see is a process that works against its own goals by ultimately diminishing the quality of the product as well as the ability to produce.

Yes, and not that there even needs to be a measure of best or worst, but for the potential and inherent quality to happen, the cycle needs to be honoured.  Birth, growth, full bloom, harvest, decay, death, rebirth, growth, full bloom, harvest, decay, death, rebirth, over and over and the rest phase at harvest is just as important as every other phase, for the quality or the outcome of whatever is being grown. So, if we don’t go through the entire cycle then we arrest development

HA! So, by not resting we arrest!!

To be clear, the sun cycle of a year takes us through the whole cycle of birth, growth, death, rebirth but it is when we focus on it as a single day, then it’s not the whole story.  I think the thing we need to bring into our ways of Being is the long term perspective, the big picture story of the sun and the earth and the seasons created by their interplay.  But we don’t like to wait, and we’ve become a culture that demands instant gratification and waiting a whole year for the results of something, or waiting a whole growth cycle, it’s just not happening any more.

So, what would Being within a moon focused or a more balanced paradigm be like?  How would you describe that energetically and what would it feel like if that cycle was Being honoured?

I am so drawn to the moon, I love to see where it is, I make sure I am aware of the phases and practise prayers.  In my own relationship with the moon, it makes me feel that there is a grander energy, my portal to the Goddess, to the magnificence of the feminine, and not the only one, because the Earth is that for me too.  But the moon in all her shining glory and beauty feels like she tells the story of the cycles that are happening whether we are paying attention or not.  Evoking a return to the awareness of what Is, the truth that’s going on, the cycle of life and death and rebirth.

And she invites that gaze; we can look upon and soften into the moon’s allurement.  We aren’t actually able to undertake that reflection process looking into the fullness of force and fire that the sun is.  And so, with the moon cycle we are offered a soft and reliable consistency to align our awareness to.  Thirteen repetitions annually that can be taken at a more of a leisurely absorption than the hurried pace of a single day, or the prolonged sense that a full year affords.

Yes, with the moon cycle being quicker than the earth seasons we can see results faster and we love that.  Traditional cultures have names for each of the moons (feminine) as they go through the seasons (masculine) which join (sacred union), weaving a story of the different energies through the year.  If we were living with the lunar cycle, we would have the opportunity to do things like notice the amount of light that is in the night sky over the cycle of a moon going through its different phases.  Watch how the animals and plants change their behaviour through that cycle.  And ultimately align ourselves and lives with the energy that is happening (whether we are paying attention or not) through the practise of moon prayers and journaling.  The lunar cycle provides a map where we can experience the wisdom of the cycles over a 28 day period.  That is actually what a woman’s body is doing anyway.

So, what does each phase of the lunar cycle bring?  Not just for women, for all Beings under the influence of her rhythmical energy?  As an outcome of the on and up all the time it feels as if vast tracts are disconnected from the rest phase.  If we were allowing this phase of the cycle what energetic benefits and qualities of that would arrive into our lives?

So, the waning moon phase is paralleled by the harvest, it is the beginning of the rest, yin, inward phase of the whole cycle and within the harvest there is great deal of information available as this phase calls for reflection.  You get to see at beginning of the descent the results of the growth phase, as an outcome of the work that you have put in.  That then offers the opportunity to notice what worked and didn’t work, what new practice would serve the harvest.  It’s the time to reflect on what the harvest means and what it took to create that and is it even the harvest that you wanted?  It’s a review process and the necessary and valuable part of the whole cycle so that you go to the next phase of the growth with more information.

So, does this process yield the compost for the next cycle?

Yes, the reflection leads to contemplation.  In so much as reflection is what is in front of you and then that leads you into deeper contemplation where you weigh up cause and effect and as the moon gets darker, as it wanes deeper, we are led into what would be the equivalent of a Winterness.  A letting go and a shedding, until we come face to face with the results at their essence level, the metaphoric seed that will be the thing that the next growth cycle is based on or comes from.  And if we don’t allow the rest phase, if we don’t make space to reflect and modify our behaviour or our practises, before we plant our seeds again, we end up going around in the cycle, doing the same things without taking the opportunity to make change or evolve

Earlier you spoke of your personal relationship with the moon cycles including prayer, would you share more about what that looks like?

Absolutely!  Beginning with the dark moon, (occurring in the moments before the new moon) it is the end of the lunar cycle, the really old moon, the death of that particular phase and we have the opportunity to make dark moon prayers.  What that involves is letting go of what no longer serves you in your life, in your behaviour, perspectives, attitudes, beliefs, fears, things like that.  And always with the perspective that it is not about somebody else, everything that you are feeling has its roots and origins within yourself. It could be that it’s a family pattern or a repeating situation, but its origin is with you and that’s where you do the work.  So, for example ‘I let go of my need to feel in control.’  And it’s not like ‘I let go of my need to feel in control’ is going to miraculously result in the need to control disappearing the next day.  These letting go prayers will bring to your attention what the story is within that, that gives you the thing that you are wanting to let go of in the first place

So, there’s a revelation or a rising to the surface of the blockage or the habit pattern that’s keeping you in that place?

Yes, and to notice that is what’s required.  To notice those things arising in your body, your feelings or thought processes as once we really start wanting to be letting go of things it implies that we’ve got some awareness about that.  Then usually what is required is the next level of awareness; to change the things that are making that thing happen in the first place.  So, at the dark moon we let go of what no longer serves and being as specific as possible is best, as well as writing these things down so that you can see what happens within the cycle of that moon and how the next growth cycle effects that.

The next phase is new moon, the rebirth, the beginning of the new growth cycle, which occurs basically the next day.  And in this phase, we give thanks for what you want to grow, the metaphoric seed you want to plant into your life.  And that prayer can be informed by what it was you let go of in the dark moon prayer.  You could be calling for the healed version of whatever it was you were letting go of, so for example if I let go of my need to feel in control then the new moon prayer could be I give thanks for trusting the flow.  Remembering that the prayers, wishes, intentions, call it as you like, it’s all the same thing, they are not a shopping a list, that you just order.  Because again, what happens is that if I let go of my need to feel in control and then I give thanks for trusting in the flow, what will happen is all of the reasons that I have created in my psyche, or all of the reasons that I’ve been indoctrinated with or taught, that block my ability to trust in the flow and be in the need to control will show up.  Which can feel like the process is not working

It gets worse before it gets better!!

Yes, and yet you need to know what it is that is in the way of what you want, so that you can make changes and that’s the gift of this cyclical process.  As you do these prayers, following the lunar rhythm, you can get more and more specific.  The process will uncover things that you might not like, that you are holding even unknowingly.

The full moon, full bloom is the next phase and what you’ll see at this point of the cycle, is the full potential, the peak of whatever your new moon prayers were for this cycle.  Not the full potential forever, but for this cycle, based on your working with the things that are arising in you that are getting in the way.  So, if I give thanks for trusting in the flow then what grows is this potential of how that’s not possible because, insert a plethora of reasons here, like I am incapable of producing anything of value.  So, I get to see what I’m telling myself that is blocking, my growth and fullest potential, usually this will be behaviours, thoughts, habitual choices, and it will be so much more obvious when you put this request out, to basically yourself, that you want to change.  All the reasons why you can’t become very loud and obvious, that is if you can establish a level of self-awareness where you can hear what you are telling yourself

And so how does that format go within a full moon prayer?  What are we giving thanks for when we are kind of in the chaos of the realisation of how we are or aren’t self-sabotaging?

It is grand vision time, the time when there is the most light so just to be holding that original prayer and keep that going rather than to be potentially demoralised by it’s not working.  Or it could so happen that the growth phase may see you drawn in a different direction.  For example, I might realise that actually, what I have to do, what would serve the process of me wanting to trust the flow would be for me to heal my relationship with my self-worth.  So, I may modify my full moon prayer to giving thanks for the potential to fulfil self-love.  As everything arises that is in the way of reaching the new moon prayer, the full moon prayer can be used to refine what you require for healing, to get to the place you want to get to.

Full moon prayers can be offered for other people, I still do them for my children, giving thanks for whatever they are doing at the time, that that reaches its fullest potential.  Giving thanks for reaching the fullest potential can also be the generic prayer for the full moon phase.  That was my prayer for a long time and so very many things have come to me that are blocking that.  The journey that those prayers have taken me on has seen me refining so many of the ways that I live.  I was collapsing but actually what I was doing was having to go back to basics in some things to be able to build up.  Nothing can reach its full potential if it has dodgy foundations

And from the full moon we come again to the harvest, the rest to reflect, the descent to the next dark moon.  How can this energetic cycle be applied more broadly to our lives, regardless of Being in female or male form?

So, the new to full moon is about birth, growth, budding, blooming, full bloom, outward intensity.  We call this the waxing phase, and it is a good time to create, to begin new things, to focus development.  And the full to the dark moon is about harvesting and celebrating the bounty, reflecting, refining, resting, and releasing, descending into deep, dark inward spaces.  We call this the waning phase and it’s a good time to finish things, to restore Self, to dream & visualise.  So, let’s get really practical here, sometimes that’s not going to be possible, in our busy world you may have to start something when it’s a waning moon and you still have to do it.  But it’s really interesting to notice what happens when you do, compared to what happens when you begin things with a new and waxing moon.

And yet if we are aware of our busyness pulling us out of alignment with the lunar cycles, we can apply different tools from our character to how we may influence the start of the next cycle. Perhaps by being more compassionate with ourselves, by not expecting the on and up response, or the availability of full doing energy within Self.  And to observe and remember that in the wax we might approach something in one way and in the wane in another way.

Yes, it’s just a good thing to experiment with, play with, especially teaching the rhythm to and doing it with children.

And I can see within those layers how keeping a moon journal supports that, particularly in our love of proving ourselves right.

Yes, it is a valuable thing to chart the moon cycle as it is really important for women to chart their menstrual cycle.  Often what happens when women pay more attention to the moon is that their cycles align with it and their bleeding comes with the dark/new and they ovulate around the full.  Not always, it does depend on many lifestyle choices like how close to nature they live, what they eat and how much they travel, that sort of thing, but the more attention you pay to the moon the more you will notice the effects.

Bridging our conversation into the realms of birth now, the medical model of pregnancy and birth that is upheld by our dominant culture, offers, and encourages tracking the cycle of gestation through a close focus on the physical development of baby and mother and then testing to ensure that standardised norms are happening.  What can the shamanic dimensions of pregnancy and alongside a moon paradigm, including prayers, releases, and intentions, offer instead?

Well, I think that during pregnancy it’s like everything you’ve ever figured out you know, and how you feel about it, is up for grabs and change.  What happens is you open up inside to enable the growth of the baby and the womb, and with this opening, everything inside is able to be felt, seen and experienced more.

Yes!  Energetically, emotionally, the framework of your psyche, you are literally called to loosen the weave of the layers of your Being, reflecting, reviewing, and releasing, and that is the space that is being created.

Yes.  And often what that actually feels like is, you don’t think the same anymore, you change your mind about things and that has culturally turned into a bit of a joke.  Whereas I feel like it’s the gift, these changes in perspectives, new learnings, and approaches to life.  Or resurfacing or surfacing for the first time of old wounds or family patterns that aren’t healthy.  I feel that these are the gift from the baby that is part of the sacred contract of that mamatoto (mother-baby) relationship.  So, the baby is coming for the mother, as her teacher now, and brings with it the next level of awakening that the mother is calling for.

And that particular baby needs, for its soul journey?

Yes, the mother who is going to be living those shifts.  Pregnancy offers us a time of so much growth, we are not just growing a baby; we are growing into Being the mother this baby has come for.  And that will be a different mother to the mother of the first born or second; each time it is a rite of passage and we become the next version of ourselves.  The mother that each baby comes for, whether it makes it through to life or not, is part of the gift of the evolution of her Beingness.  The birth process is happening on every level; the mother is being reborn as well as birthing a baby.

And I am sure there is ripple of that into the sacred union with the father of that baby, into the lineage where there are grandparents and extended whanau who are helping to hold the space that she is literally becoming.

Yes, and then the baby arrives and brings the next level of all of them, if the process is respected and upheld like that.

So, within this space and expanded state, the mamatoto is being influenced by the moon cycles.  Do the phases still apply in the same way, are there smaller subsets or broader patterns, is every full moon intense, and is there an escalating intensity as pregnancy culminates in birth?

On the wheel of birth, growth, full bloom, harvest, decay, death, we see the peak, the full bloom / moon as ovulation and conception, and then the journey of pregnancy on that wheel is of descent.  And that the birth happens down at the new moon, winter cusp spring, 3am mark where it is the beginning of the whole new birth growth cycle.  And that the descent is the descent inward, where the mother travels deeper and deeper within to then bring the baby out.   Whereas looking at it from the baby’s perspective it is about the growth to the outer, that parallels that.

So, she is in the waning inward and the baby is in the waxing outward phase.

Yes, and so together they make the full story and cycle.

Do the Shamanic dimensions of pregnancy practises offer a framework to support the mother in her opening, questing, and charting at this time of high growth and change?

Yes.  A wonderful thing to do through pregnancy, and as a tracker, is a shamanic journeying into the womb to sit with the baby and to talk in a shamanic journey state consciousness, much like meditation, with the baby on a regular basis.  It could be daily or weekly but mostly importantly with an intention to listen within.  To listen to the baby about what needs to shift or change, what requires attention now, what needs to be let go of, what do we need to welcome in.  Meeting, through deep soulful communication, the enlightened Being connecting from within you.

So, a 10 moon cycle of pregnancy prayers?

Yes, and that will be influenced by whatever the lunar phase and season it is.

I have a feeling that there would be dozens of grandmothers who would love to get in on that too.  Or perhaps I could find a way of sharing with my whanau what my pregnancy prayers are, the tweaky bits arising and unfolding, the areas where I need support and understanding within the pregnancy, with my whanau.  To have a group of beloveds hearing what the baby is bringing as a bastion for evolution, before it is even earthside.

And so, then our last question and it is one that we come to often in birth circles is, when a pregnancy or a birth culminates in unexpected or traumatic outcome, what can the Shamanic Dimensions of Pregnancy and lunar cycles offer in terms of practical tools for babies and mothers to heal the grief of what wasn’t.

I know from my own personal experience and from being with women as a midwife that we have the birth we need to have, to teach us what we need to learn about ourselves, to take us to the next place in our journey to wholeness.  Based on the concept that we are Spiritual Beings having a human experience and that our rites of passage are our times of deep transformation, and that transformation happens whether we are aware of it, actively working with it, or not.  So, when a birth outcome is traumatic it holds within it the opportunity for deep, deep healing and as the Goddess Hygiea pronounces the wound reveals the cure.  And so, the opportunity of all traumas is to ask of the experience how does this serve.  It’s kind of the obvious question; ‘how did this happen to me?’ Why did this happen to me?’ We’re on the right path because often we’re repeatedly asking, ‘why me, why me?’

Jeannine Parvati Baker taught me this and this was her approach to the whole shamanic dimensions of everything, which is what lies beneath.  How and what does this serve, what does this experience teach me about myself and the way of things.  What is this experience pointing to in terms of the original energy that created it, the question is what is there that’s familiar in the feeling that the experience resulted in for you?  Is that familiar, have you ever felt that feeling before?  Most of the time the answer is ‘oh yeah.’  And so, then you need to track back in your life, to each time you felt that this is what lay beneath.  So, if you felt abused or over powered, frightened, or threatened in the birth experience and then what unfolds because of those feelings, you ask ‘when have I ever felt that before, when was the last time, and the time before that and before that.  Its forensic psycho archaeology to track back, hopefully to the first time that that feeling may have ever happened.  And that can be called your sacred wound, a defining experience or event in your life, which usually originates from in utero to sometime in childhood.   The story goes something (or a series of things) happen for everybody that results in you feeling a need to modify your behaviour in order to survive.  That then becomes your strategic survival pattern that you live, because you think that’s how you need to behave in order to survive, based on that original trauma. So, what happens is that all these things that are not the flow, but are modifications to survive, show up, particularly at birth.  Because at birth we need to open and when you open you see everything that’s inside.  Whatever you have put in the way of being able to be an empty vessel, a hollow bone, so that the birth force can move through you, anything that you have sticking in the way of that empty vessel, is what will get your attention and block the flow.  If you’ve got habitual behaviour or basically survival strategies that you’ve developed from previous trauma, then that’s the way you will be until you notice and realise ‘oh actually that original thing is not happening anymore and so I don’t need to feel that threat.’  The depth of self-knowing that is hidden within the opportunity of a traumatic experience around birth is the opportunity to unravel your whole way of being in relationship to yourself and the outside world.  These wounds can have nothing to do with the birth but the person, their life experiences, particularly in relationship with their menstrual cycles, their sexuality, their red thread (Mother lineage).

And there are all different ways of approaching this healing but what really is required is a lot of support and love.  One’s body can tell the story of where the energy is held, whether its pain, pressure, tension, malfunction, essentially dis-ease and then there are many modalities that when practised with intention can release dis-ease through sound, movement, visualisation, along with the support of all kinds of energetic medicine.  This then often becomes everybody’s life work and the gifts that come from the uncovering of this are that you can live in a more aware way, without these kinds of blocks, walls or turning things, like feelings, off in order to survive. Once people go through this level of healing then they are able to help others and that’s the beautiful bit about it.

And so, when we’re exploring these wounds it’s my belief that we have a sovereign right to intuit any sort of ritual to release and heal the wound.

Definitely I think that we have everything we need within, and I often use what we are talking about in the workshops I do.  I use the drum as a way of helping people slow down their mental activity and facilitate an inward focus for them to access their inner wisdom to ask for healing rituals to do for their traumatic experiences of menarche, or birth, to find their inner knowing of what healing is require. I remember when I first started these practises, I was pregnant and I had thrush, nothing I could do would make it go away.  I knew I needed to do a drum journey to ask what to do for this dis-ease during which an image came up of the word red, and a picture of a clover leaf.  I wasn’t really that knowledgeable about herbs at the time and so I went and looked up red clover and discovered it’s about balancing the pH of the body.   I started drinking red clover tea and the thrush healed quickly.  Drum journeys are just one of the ways of getting information from inside oneself; all are really valid, as is ritual.  Humans love and thrive with rituals; it’s a big thing that’s missing in lives right now as we continue to pass over our intuition in favour of the opinions of ‘experts’

So, Jane, when I feel into that, if there is a mamatoto in my community then I could let it be known I would be open to supporting a need to heal that could look like nothing I’ve seen before as the need is being intuited by a dynamic that has not existed in this combination.  Because what we are saying is that each baby is a unique catalyst for a letting go and a repurposing into a new identity for the mother.   If there is trauma and wounding that’s being felt by this mamatoto they are both carrying an imprint as well as a need to figure out their antidotes and that wound could look like nothing we’ve seen previously.

Yes, and while there maybe somethings that we learn from one mamatoto to the next, healing is always going to be totally specific and associated with something completely unique in their lives.

So just as we can’t standardised birth, we can’t standardise the healing of our birth traumas either and I am certain the practise of observing moon cycles and prayers offers a pivotal and universal tool for healing individuals and the collective in a multiplicity of ways.  Thank you Jane for the fullness of your wisdom, time and heartfelt sentiments shared.  On behalf of the rich and deep communities of peoples in Aotearoa, we’ll look forward to welcoming you onto the land and into our lineages, homes, and circles in May.  I for one am certain the seeds you are entrusted to plant will go on to grow into a bountiful, nourishing and heartily received harvest indeed.

Jane Hardwicke Collings, homebirth midwife and mother and practitioner of shamanic midwifery.

Rachel Pearson, mother, matriarch and holistic dru yoga practitioner. Rachel is a kaumatua from within our home birth trust.