Stream of (the most profound deep radiant holy) love I have ever known
In which I rename myself divine
So much happens that I don’t tell you. So much that I want to share. So, even though this post is a tangle - a message within a mystery within a maze of mind fuckery that I am only beginning to unwind, I am sharing it anyway. I am speaking anyway. And know this. There is magic in here. Go find it and it’s yours.
Last Friday, after a spontaneous (and incomplete) Kundalini experience, I dreamed and dreamed. The first day, I called my counselor to help me understand. The second day, I walked out into the farm, where I met Shekinah. (I describe that encounter in another post (coming soon. I’ll put the link here when its up.)
Two days later, I woke from sleep streaming light. I heard:
Continuously flow your attention toward Her.
Toward Her? Toward Who? I asked.
Toward Me. Mary Sofia Shekina Ishtar Isis Quan Yin, White Buffalo Calf women. I have so many names. All are one. All are you. All are Me.
Flow your attention toward Me in you. Breathe Me in with your breath. Draw Me in with your gaze. Pull me toward you with your listening. I am here with you. You are here with me. Hear me See me Flow your attention toward me now.
It came fast. It came suddenly. I tried to keep up.
Flow your attention to Me where you are, under the sun or under the moon. Refresh and refresh and refresh your heart, your life, your Self with Me. I am Here with You. I am Her IN you.
I burst into tears.
And then, into rage. Madly, furiously, I wrote and wrote: ‘I will start over. I will live 120 years. Then I will not have wasted one moment of my 60 year life without her. I will never forgive them. I am so angry that I was not told all of this when I was a child.’
Tell it now. Tell it to the children…
I pretend I don’t hear her. I keep writing. I need to let it all out.
‘I am soooo angry. Why didn’t they tell me? Why didn’t I know? I needed this knowledge, this story, this …. connection. As a young woman. As a mother. I am so bloody angry! I could feel it sense it hear it see it. My creativity knew it touched it - it was there all the time - but I couldn’t get to it. Couldn’t reach it. NOTHING was given to support me, to support this. NEVER was I taught to see Her to know Her to use this direct this ….. but what? What was this something I want trying to reach, to get, to use?
It was POWER! Realizing this I am angry all over again. So angry (underlined). They took it, they stole it, they - the fucking patriarchy - stole my power. They stole my time and creativity and spirit. They stole my voice from me!
Here is your voice. Speak now.
My attention turns toward her and away from outrage and grief. Away from rage and blame. I am listening now. She speaks, vibrating inside me like music. She says:
I am your voice. You are mine. Speak.
Speak for the child that you were and you speak for all children.
Speak for the young woman, the mother, the wife.
Speak for the maker the weaver, the healer.
Speak also, for him. The son, whose joy was turned to violence, whose gifts were turned toward war, whose creativity forced into the straightjacket suitjacket of workworkwork. Speak for the husband, the son, all the men who would have loved but never met Me. The women who never knew Me. Speak for Her. Speak for Me.
And now, speak, for your own work. Raise your work as if it were your own child, with that much devotion. Advocate for your work*. Feed your work. Build it cell by cell into a living force. Speak for your Self. Speak now. Go within and find her. Care for her. And raise her and feed her as if she were your own child, with that much care, that much devotion.
Now. As if you were recently born, rename your life, your self, your image. Re-imagine and re-image your life course. As if you were seven years old. Start as if you are entering first grade. Eyes wide with curiosityEyes wide with curiosity. Heart open with wonder and willingness to learn. Absorb the stories that are missing.Build the missing curriculum. And share it.
You are an auto-didact. You are a polymath. This is your inheritance. You were not served. So serve yourself. (Servez-vous, vous-meme.)
As her words vibrate through me, I see the name. I see it forming in the room where visions come. Inside of me, an image that is also a vibration. Like music.
I know this name. I’ve been gathering it toward me forever - all of my life. A name like a collage of scraps stuffed into notebooks, observations piled in folders, scribbles of direct transmission on the backs of grocery lists. A name distorted but not discarded. A name that, each time I saw it, I claimed it. Bits of light, lifted from the ground, shimmer feathers that fell into my lap. Light, sifted and stored. In boxes, in baskets, in pockets, glowing in the dark behind the balled up socks and underwear at the back of a secret drawer of myself.
My name. I knew it all the time.
As the name came, it came first as an image. I saw her - my true and radiant self. I begin to draw her. I had to draw her. The drawing is a mess, a tangle of colored pens and words. Each part of her labeled with more names and qualities.
Her gleaming eye, all that I see is blessed.
Her radiant crown, open to flow.
Her radiant brain, supported and nourished and learning.
Her radiant voice, flowing truth that bubbles up from her radiant heart filled with radiant love.
All of this radiance. Every part of her is glowing, gleaming. Illuminated.
Lungs and liver. A radiant womb, filled with luminous, life-sustaining darkness.
At the base of the spine, a radiant yoni, strong supported and open to the earth.
I sit back. Awestruck at what I have seen and what I have made.
And then, at the top of the page, I begin to write my new name. It simply comes. Right through me and onto the paper.
Natalie. Shekinah. Elle. Shakti.
A name with four parts.
The first name. Natalie.
I am Natalie, a name which means ‘recently born’. A name which I’ve carried since I became a mother. Back then, exhausted and in great need of sleep, I started to write a novel. I named the protagonist Natalie. I loved her. She was afraid and brave, confounded by life but wise. She could solve any problem and she gave herself many to work on.
The main one: how to drive away from the supposedly comfortable life that she had (suburban mother of two, carpools, playdates, boredom and despair) into a new life of invention, adventure, mystery and fun! How to do this with only a jar of quarters (for the laundry) a tank full of gas, two toddlers in car seats (she would NEVER leave them behind) and a vague memory of an island where, once upon a time, she was happy. That book was never finished but it led me through some dark days and taught me a great deal about my own (I mean Natalie’s) resourcefulness. The pages are still in my desk drawer. A talisman of a woman, recently reborn by her own choice to change things.
The second name: Shekinah.
A nod to the root of my Jewishness. A nod to my grandmother, whose strength kept my father (born with Cerebral Palsy) out of an institution. A nod to my grandfather, whom I never knew but I hear he was a Kabbalist. A nod to my cousins, my aunts and uncles. A nod to the whole matzoh ball soup memory of Passovers at the diner because Aunt Elaine didn’t like to cook. To Thanksgivings with Aunt Ruth. To Hannukah, lighting the candles in the kitchen, singing the prayers, even as our Christmas tree twinkled in the living room.
The name Shekinah, though, is so much more. When I first began to hear the voice that I know as The Angels, they showed me an image of a radiant seed of light glowing at the center of every human heart. Out of that image, which I named ‘the soul seed’, the Soul Caller Training was born.
That Voice continued to guide and teach me, through vivid dreams and illuminated waking experience. In 2019, it woke me from sleep and frog-marched me to the kitchen where (was I dreaming?) I opened my laptop and booked a trip to France.
In France, the Voice was louder. It led me through Paris. To the corner where I used to live and where, completely unnoticed by me at age 19, there is an enormous statue of Archangel Michael. Standing before it, chills running up my spine, I knew: I have been watched over, even when I did not know it, all of my life.
The voice led me to the hotel where I would encounter the teacher who invited me to Chartres. I accepted his gift, packed my suitcase and headed toward the train station.
There, I met a young girl - the age I was when I lived here - and the Voice helped me help her.
The voice encouraged me to keep going when I thought I’d missed my train. Miraculously, mysteriously, the train seemed to be waiting for me on the track. The moment I stepped aboard, it started to move.
I arrived at the great Cathedral - and I could not enter. For two days, I sat at the cafe that faces the magnificent carved doors. Finally, I stepped inside. She greeted me at the door: Welcome home. She led me around the edge - it was all so familiar. I have been here before, I knew. I sat before her statue and closed my eyes and suddenly, I was surrounded by the scent of roses. This had happened only once before, the day when, in the middle of a pretty normal meditation, my heart cracked open and open and open.
All of this led me to this moment, all of this to say, I am a student of, a devotee of, the Divine Feminine in all of her names. And though I will never truly understand any of this, I can see now that the Voice, the Angels, Mary - it was always Her - the Divine Feminine, whose name in Hebrew is Shekinah.
And how have I never before noticed the first three letters of that name are SHE.
It was SHE who came for me. SHE, who lives inside of me. SHE, the force of Love, The Grace Mother the world knows as Mary, Queen of Angels. Shekinah/Mary/Isis. This is the Divine Feminine, She is God/dess and the angels are an expression of Her boundless love for us.
It is Shekinah, as Mary, as the Black Madonna, as Inana, as Persephone, who descends with us into dark places, dark nights and dark times to reestablish light.
It is Shekinah, it is said, in her guise as Sophia, as Grace, who recognizes us and calls us to her. She knows us by the shard of light (the soul seed) that each of us carries. For that light is a small fragment of Herself, a fragment of Her own radiant Body.
In the mystical teachings of Judaism (The Zohar/Kabbalah), it is said that, in the beginning, out of the inky void of nothingness, the Creator made ten vessels. And into these vessels He poured and poured and poured his powerful light, until the vessels shattered in an enormous explosion - a big bang of divine power. Shards of those divine light-infused vessels were scattered to the ends of creation. (You could say they were the beginnings of creation - ‘start seeds’, the light seeds, the soul seeds. They were everywhere, in every thing, and everyone. Shekhinah, then, is the everywhere, all at once, immanent presence of the Divine in matter.
And as we are material - we have bodies. We live in a material world. She is in us.
She’s the One who whispers in our ear, the mystical up-close Friend who beckons us, Look over here! and Listen to this!
She is the Divine-infused vessel (the living energy of divine union) scattered everywhere, in everything. She is the animating life force - the mother of vital chi, prana, breath.
The seed-shard of Shekinah brings us to life - literally. It fires to life at the moment of conception and keeps burning, powering our heart to beat and our lungs to breathe. That tiny spark of Divine Light infuses us with life - and with Love. Because we carry Her within us it is impossible for us to resist love, for Love is Her nature and so, as a part of her, Love is our own nature, too.
Mirroring another ancient myth - that of Isis and Osiris - Shekhinah, it is said, descends into the world to find and illuminate all of the shards of her own exploded body. The world IS her body. In like manner, we are constantly seeking and finding Her. In her image, we are searching for light, out in the world.
And Her mirror shards wink at us from everywhere. We see her in signs - a feather, a butterfly, a bird. We hear her voice in the wind, the brook babbling over the stones. Shekinah delights in our delight in discovering her. Here I am, she whispers. Look over here, she draws our gaze. The more we notice her signs, the more she calls. It’s a relationship and, the more we connect with her bright energy, the more brightly our mirror shard glows. We encounter one another through recognition.
I know you! we say.
You are me, she laughs.
As this single realization changes the world for me, I toggle between grief that I have gone so long without Her and clarity, at the profound responsibility that I carry (that we all carry) such power within.
My third name is Elle-
which is the French word for, ‘her,’ or ‘she’. Through my own journey, as I’ve gathered my pile of feathers and broken beehive, I have been drawn inexplicably to France. From the time I encountered Madeline, one of twelve little girls in two straight lines, in a children’s book, French women have always fascinated me. The ideal self image I carry inside my own psyche is certainly a composite including Coco Chanel/Audrey Hepburn/Catherine Deneuve and my beautiful Aunt Elaine (whose name, I have just googled this, means “shining light”.
Pink ballet slippers and tutus led to ballet pink nail polish, cashmere sweaters and long strands of pearls. Inside of me, where name vibrates, my name is Elle.
‘El’ is also a Hebrew word, which, when appended to the end of another word, means ‘of God.’ Another shard. The name of many a synagogue, Beth El, means ‘house of God’. My given name, Amy, means friend. As Amy-el, my name means house of the friend. In Hebrew, Ami-el means, God of my people. Aren’t names miraculous?
With Elle as my third name, my conversation with Micha-el, Rapha-el, Uri-el, Gabri-el falls into a kind of order. (And actually, I’m thinking that it may work better if I transpose it this part of my name, making my name Natalie Elle Shekinah. Recently born of the house of the Goddess.)
We will see how the name sorts itself out.
My fourth name, only recently discovered (and not yet fully earned) is Shakti.
Though I believe that as I work with this name, Shakti will eventually melt into and become one with Shekinah, right now she and I are having a (rather painful) conversation along the length of my spinal column.
It is said that Shakti lies coiled like a sleeping serpent at the base of the spine. It is said that, when She is activated, through yoga practice, psychedelic experience or spontaneous Kundalini event, She awakens and flies up the length of the spinal column to the center of the head, where she meets her own beloved, Shiva, Lord of the Dance. It is said that when these lovers meet, there is enlightenment. Many who’ve experienced this phenomena report visionary, hallucinatory images - expanded consciousness, Nirvana.
For me, so far, not so much.
For me, the journey of Shakti toward Shiva is like having a pulsating cauldron of hot pain sitting at the top of my pelvic girdle as molten fire slowly moves upward to the back of my heart where, until only recently, it sits and burns.
The last time this happened, last Thursday when I dared to open my mouth in a women’s group and speak from power, the fire moved further, for the first time - proceeding upward to the back of my throat, the base of the skull -— and, though it hurt (quite a lot) I was not afraid that I was dying. This is progress.
This is Shakti as Kundalini and She is making herself vividly apparent in my body. And this is, as I come to understand, my version of the physical embodiment of Divine power, unique to me. MANY people go through this sort of experience with no pain at all, only bliss.
For me, this pain is two-fold. First, it’s a teacher. I’m learning that feminine power is real - and powerful. I’m learning to allow that power to move in me. I’m learning HOW it moves, a little at a time.
It may seem strange to you that I don’t know this. Perhaps you already know how to move energy through your somatic system. Many people do - perhaps most people do. But I seem to have missed that learning. I suspect this is because my mother, who experienced terrible trauma in her childhood, repressed her own power and her emotions. She could not cry. She rarely stood up for herself. When she did, standing up to a bully (my father, my friend Gennifer’s father) she was a tiny fierce warrior with a quaky, shaky voice who would not be moved.
More often, especially later in life, my mother’s body expressed emotion (power) as physical pain. She somatized her emotions. So did my Dad. From them, I learned that rage was expressed as moaning, as self-harm, as losing an object you needed or loved. I learned that depression was expressed as a stomach ache, anger was a headache. Every feeling became a symptom, a tanrtrum, or - thank God/dess for my brave and beautiful mother - art. My mother learned to channel her emotion - which she couldn’t feel - into art. Thank God she had her painting. Her poetry.
Since I didn’t learn the skill of moving big power through my body in childhood, or young adulthood - until now, actually - and since big power seems to be wanting to move now, I am inventing it as I go through it.
This happens. We have to make things up as we go along sometimes.
To me, this pain represents the full force of my own repressed and inflamed feminine authority.
(A note: you can see, in the writing at the beginning of this post, how angry and inflamed I became as I realized the wisdom and the relationship that was denied to me, to all women. This anger, for now, is limiting my ability to simply let power flow. I don’t understand the power. I don’t know what to do with it. It scares me and I contract against it. Hence, I feel pain. That said, I am learning. It IS moving. Things ARE changing. )
At the beginning of this “spiritual awakening” journey— but wait, honestly. I hesitate to call it that. That name minimizes and distorts the experience that I am actually having. Let’s call this what it is: the direct experience of embodiment of divine energy crossing from non-physical into physical. My body is the physical plane, the vessel into which Divine energy is crossing and beginning to move.
As I watch my own experience, I learn. For example, I am surprised to learn that this energy moves upward. I used to believe that moving divine energy would feel like being filled with marshmallow rainbow joy puffs. I am surprised every time I open my mouth to speak power and Shakti wakes up and starts burning, shaking me and making her presence undeniably clear, undeniably real. I am surprised by the sheer reality of it, of Her.
(And here I want to add a comment to this post: We were raised not to believe in a feminine face of God. She was erased edited right out of our sacred texts. That’s what I’m writing about here.)
Which is why I am adding her name to the end of my name to honor that work that she and I are doing together.
I will say that I do not yet know if Shakti is the Hindu name for the very same presence that the Jewish people know as Shekinah and the Christian people know as Mary. I suspect that she is. It is only language that divides them. As the many names of the Divine Feminine come together inside of our own bodies and minds, we are all doing this work rogether. This is a call. We are all answering as She climbs the spine of the world, energizing the uprising of repressed and marginalized people around the world. The Grace Mother is here - and She loves us all.
So, I am taking her name and I am holding it inside of me as a new image of Self inside of self.
Self inside of Self.
I will say that last Thursday, when the fire climbed my spine, for the first time I was not afraid. I knew what it was. I did my best to observe it, even as it burned.
I will say that since then, I am listening and asking, how can I help you to move all the way to your destination? What do you need of me?
I will say that as I ask this question, my attention is drawn out the window, where the paths of two walking women converge and cross.
One, in pink sweatpants, walks north, using a silver walking stick to support her steps. The other, wearing a brown jacket and bluejeans, is walking east. She is my friend Barbara who owns the labyrinth where I walk sometimes. She built the labyrinth, laying stones on the ground at the edge of the forest with her own hands, years ago.
Their paths cross at the entrance to the farm where I walk. In this waking dream, they represent (to me) the axes of a cross, a crossroad. In symbolic terms, the horizontal axis of the symbol of the cross represents Space. It represents Her, the vessel, the earth, the sacred ground laid out beneath our feet, where we can walk our dream into reality. The vertical axis represents Him, the One who creates it all, provide structure and limits, laws and order. The Great Balance, I’ll call him. She and He. Vessel and light. Firm and order. Space and time. The Sacred dance.
This is sacred union. That’s what the cross represents: the meeting point between heaven and earth, between shakti and shiva, between feminine and masculine, space and time.
The day after this experience, feeling like a bit of loose electricity was still crackling inside of me and needing to ground, I called my counselor. She walked me back through the experience and I shared my reflections about what it might be all about. I hesitate to say “what it all means“ because I have no idea what it means. But in our conversation, I received (or maybe I finally saw) a new interior image: a being who lives inside my own body along with ‘me’. I’d always assumed that “I” lived here alone but it seems that there are two dwelling here, inside the same house. And how remarkable this was - to see.
Someone else is here. An ancient one. Neglected, emaciated and ignored, she was in need of much care. Her head bowed to her chest her limbs so thin, her body brown as a nut, and dry as a shriveled raisin.
She is inside of me. This ancient One. Dry as a bone and nearly dead. But She is right here. Immanent. In me - and I did not know.
As I write these words, just now, a third woman passes my window. She is young and fit, with a bouncy blonde ponytail. She runs by full of energy, dressed entirely in green. This feels significant.
And so, here we are. A third woman passing by my window, approaching from the north, where the woman with the silver cane was headed. They must have passed one another. The jogger moves by headed south.
This also seems important.
Three women, crossing my window.
One my age, mother of the labyrinth.
One with a silver stick (a magic wand? A broomstick?) heading north.
My feeling toward the Ancient One inside of me is strong, a deep compassion and grief. How did I not know she was there?
This is part of the source of that anger. If I’d known I could have taken care of her, fed and watered her. ANd inside of me she would have grown and there would have been a sacred feminine ancient presence inside of me all of my life. But as it is, she’s here now.
I will say that, for me, she represents the emaciated, unfed, unrecognized and under nourished living vine of the sacred feminine. That which was always here but was never acknowledged, never FELT.
And yet, I want to say, She stayed with me. She never abandoned me.
And by the way, everything I’m saying here is of course, not just for me. It’s for all of us. She stayed with us even through she was erased and repressed and beaten out of us.
Seven years ago – and I am guessing at that date. None of this is precise — I had my first experience of this living vine - my first encounter with Her. That day, I was meditating when I felt a kind of tickling around the ankles and calves and had the image and the distinct sensation of a green vine trying to climb my legs. Something green, with roots of its own, had decided to add itself to me and was trying to climb my body from the earth upward.
At that time, I impression that the earth itself was reaching for me, was claiming me.
As this was around the time when my father was dying and my mother was moving into the last part of her life, I wasn’t paying that much attention. I was still working full time, writing a weekly column about angels for a women’s magazine and just about to receive the light that would become the Soul Caller Training.
Most of my attention was on that magazine column, though - trying to put down the kind of disembodied ungrounded spirituality the job required. A kind of ‘spirituality lite’, which never ventured into real trouble - nothing earthy - but kept directing the gaze of our readers upward, toward transcendence.
If I kept my eyes on my paper and did my work, I could avoid looking downward at the suffering and grief that was evident all around me.
But I do remember that vine, and how it felt when it claimed me: like I was being drawn downward, pulled to the ground and then, into the ground. As I was being drawn into my parents’ suffering, my own grief, She was there - even then.
A short while later, already weary from racing between nursing care facilities, I chose a path of tremendous physical exertion and took my untrained rather lazy body to the yoga studio where I pushed myself through a rigorous yoga teacher training. If that had been mere exercise, it might have killed me. Instead, yoga, with its deep wisdom about the energies that flow in the human body - and the green vine, holding me fast to the soil - may have saved my life. They certainly saved my heart and my soul.
So I have a new name.
I started this essay this revelation this conversation, whatever this is, with outrage. Outrage that I had kept apart from the Divine and beautiful feminine all this time but the truth is, She was always there, always guiding me. And when the time was right, She came for me.
And so, I am taking Her name.
I am Natalie Elle Shekinah: Recently born of God and Goddess, wrestling, but in a good way, with fire. There is an Ancient One inside of me, Whom I am tending.
And I am so pleased to introduce Her to you.
Namaste, Shard of light.
Namaste means ‘the light in me salutes the light in you’. It’s Sanskrit, a greeting soul to soul. Shard of light to shard of light.
I want to say goodbye by saying, Beautiful soul. She (and I), we see you there, shining and shining and shining.
Thank you for reading (or listening.)
*Advocate for your work. This golden, illuminated sentence was written by the teacher Kelly Diels. Kelly is a soul whisperer (and a true visionary), who’s been gathering a marvelous, revolutionary truth name herself. Go see. Follow the light.
I have this group where I support people.
We meet every Sunday to connect, to consider and to call on the support of the Love that holds us all, and all of this world. Mostly, we gather (via zoom) to explore what's emerging around us (in the world, in our own lives) and what's emerging between us.
Right now, people need spaces where we can come together and look at things through a lens of pattern, symbol - and, more important, a lens of love.
When we anchor to the ground of love that never changes, and we look, eyes open, heart brave, at the world AS IT REALLY IS - all the troubles, all the missed connections and crossed wiring - things change. Inside of us. In the world.
In ONECircle, we meet to look - and to see. We meet to listen and speak. We meet to hold and be held in the blessing of being alive and being together.
If you are looking for a place to be held - as you are, as you live in this world, as IT is, I'd love to tell you more about it. Leave a note in the comments or hit reply to send me an email. Or check it out here.