Memorial Day ~ Honoring the Forgotten Warriors

Today, in addition to honoring all of the military warriors who bravely fought and sacrificed their lives while serving their country throughout time, I would like to honor the mothers, throughout every culture and throughout time, who endured a tortuous labor and died during childbirth. We don’t have a holiday to honor these everyday female warriors who shed their own blood in the taken-for-granted sacrifice to create nurturing circles for all of us and to keep the population of the human race moving forward. Nor do we give out medals, benefits, or any special burial of honor equaling the 21-gun salute.. So here’s to The Fallen, whether by war or womb – our brothers and sisters and ancestors who faced the fire and fought hard.

I honor you.

You are not forgotten.

~ Suzanne

Challenges and Purpose – an excerpt

Week 1, Fall, by Mara Friedman

Week 1, Fall, by Mara Friedman

When it comes to “Periods”, Mother Nature doesn’t care if you’re black, white, purple or polka-dotted, Republican or Democrat, straight or gay, as long as you’re a human female and somewhere between the ages of 7 and 55-ish. Minus pregnancies, nursing, hysterectomies, or some unusual health challenge, women cycle day-in and day-out for about 40 years of their lives. Yet this basic function of what makes us female is an uncomfortable, if not taboo subject. Due to lack of information, embarrassment, or violence against them, women worldwide often suffer in silence from its sometimes chaotic effects, which influence their lives in every way, including parenting, friendships, and sexual relationships.

4 Seasons in 4 Weeks: Awakening the Power, Wisdom, and Beauty in Every Woman’s Nature, page 30

 

The New Goddesses

Happy Birthday to my BABY, Myan! (That’s MYAN not MAYAN as she points out). It means, “water from the spring (or source)”. I tell this story in the last chapter of 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks. 
The New Goddess

The New Goddess

 

Water that comes from the source represents the womb water of Mother Earth and the return of the Feminine.

Myan was born in the water at home. She was also born right in the middle of her due date, which just happened to be International Women’s Day. I love that, of course.

At the time of Myan’s birth, I would not have guessed that my life’s work would present itself in my 50s and would be about teaching an entirely different (new but actually old) way of viewing a woman’s monthly womb rhythm. Nor was it on my radar that a Lakota woman would have a vision about me and tell me I was to be the Keeper of an ancient stone medicine bowl for water ceremonies (and then actually gift it to me).

Also, the number 19 is a particularly auspicious number for the return of Feminine honor and rightful say on the planet. It has to do with the Celtic Goddess, Brigid, and interestingly, the sacredness of “wells” along with a host of other powerful and fascinating influences. It’s my feeling that the story of Brigid needs to be taught in history classes. She is the originating heart, soul, and force behind much of the British Isles symbolism, legends, and ways. If interested, there is much to know and many blogs about her: www.druidry.org/library/gods-goddesses/brigit

My ancestry is all British Isles at least as far back as 1505, Wales. I believe I must have some strong, early Celtic women in my DNA who have been surfacing and speaking for a very long time. I believe Myan carries strong Celtic women in her as well, probably stronger. At 19 years old, she’s just coming in to her own visions on how to best serve the planet as a strong woman. There are many young women in her generation (and the one just prior) who I consider to be the “New Goddesses”. Since I am teaching the ancient “way” of the female, they are coming to me and speaking their truth and knowings, so I’m experiencing this firsthand. It’s very powerful.

Life is so, so interesting. I’m grateful for the ever unfolding surprises that are put before me as I walk this Earth path.

~ Love and Thanks,

Suzanne (the proud mama)

shadow-ornament

 

Moon Lodge Celebration, May 24, 2014

I am “over the moon” about being asked to be the “pillar” for our local “moon lodge” created by the Goddess Temple of Ashland!

A moon lodge is basically the same idea as a “red tent”—a place where females can go to rest when on their moon time. This is a tipi. To be clear, although I am a trained indigenous ceremonialist and a medicine carrier of a sacred stone healing bowl, this moon lodge follows no Native American tradition. We simply honor the practice and what it represents. Our moon lodge will be expanding on the concept.

WHAT IS GOING TO BE VERY DIFFERENT about this moon lodge:

I’m very excited to announce that instead of honoring one “phase” of a female’s monthly hormonal journey, that we will be honoring all 4 phases, following the 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks practice. The space will have 4 alters instead of one. When a girl or woman goes inside, she will sit in the area that reflects the “week” she is on in order to support, at that time, her own greater self-care while also  preparing for the next. Because 4s4w holds the idea that this 4-phase cycle is the imprint of being female and surfaces during our reproductive years to show us the “blueprint” of it, it is held that it is a supportive rhythm that is still available after menopause, sans the reproductive challenges.

Right now we have a very small tipi which would result in 1 or 2 women going in at a time. I’ll know more soon if a larger one is going to be loaned to us. If you have a larger tipi sitting in storage or on your land that you don’t use anymore and would like to donate to us, please me at: 4s4wContact@gmail.com.

We will erect the lodge mid-May and then hold a celebration from 1:30-6:30 pm on Saturday, May 24, 2014. We’ll have a moon labyrinth and live archetypes to help everyone embody the natural lunar rhythm of women, and a ceremony to officially open our Moon Lodge.. Event is open to women, men, and children of all ages. Please join us!

 

A Thief in Summer

Guest post by Jessica Vineyard

I hated it every time it came. It stole in like a thief in the night. A dark cloud of gloom accompanied by a horrid surge of adrenalin. A sinking feeling of dread. A sense that I would never feel like myself again.

I had recently experienced a terribly painful breakup and, while it had been several months prior and I now felt pretty good for the most part, I still experienced a periodic, gripping, gut-wrenching, mind-numbing pain. Perhaps I couldn’t really pin it on the breakup any more.

Then I had the good fortune to read 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks. As I read the bullet points in each seasonal chapter I recognized some of my symptoms. I started tracking immediately. Since I’m way past my physical cycling, I tracked by the Moon phases. In other words, my monthly Day 1 was the day of the New Moon.

It didn’t take long to discover that these times of feeling immense hopelessness, enormous sadness, and the loss of something I could no longer put my finger on came most often during my Summer week, the last week of the Moon’s monthly cycle. I thought I was on to something.

In the beginning, although I was tracking regularly, I didn’t actually look at the monthly rhythms that I was experiencing. More frequently, I found myself having a “gloom attack,” racing to my 4s4w book, and madly skimming through the chapters to find descriptions of my symptoms. It took a while, but I eventually started looking ahead to see what seasonal rhythms were coming. What I discovered astounded me.

Before I describe what I learned, let me say a little more about what I learned when I would look back at what had happened during my cycle. I found that these gloom attacks occurred very predictably—nearly always in my Summer week. When I’d have them, I would feel as though I always felt down and depressed, that I never felt good. So when I did feel good, I didn’t pay attention. I began to spend all my time worrying about the next attack. Weeks would go by, but I knew one was always just around the corner. When the despair descended, I could once again confirm that it happened in week 4. This was getting old. Where was the benefit?

A light came on out of the blue one day. How about looking ahead and putting the 4s4w philosophy to work, girl? Since I knew these attacks came in my Summer week, and I intellectually knew they weren’t indicative of my constant state, I started to bring more of my awareness to the teachings of the other weeks. Week 1: oh, relax? Rest? Right. I’m just crawling out of a hole, for goodness’ sake! Hey, stop fighting it. Just try it. Read the Fall chapter, lady. That’s the point. Oh, right. Okay, fine.

I started to notice that I felt better than good—I felt great!—in Week 2, Winter. I had tons of energy and wanted to move my body. I started to enjoy looking and feeling good. During Week 3, Spring, I made a point of connecting with friends I feel good being around. And by the time the horrible Summer week was upon me, it wasn’t so horrible any more. I still felt the sinking feeling, but instead of fearing the worst, I just allowed myself a few days in bed, quiet and alone, with a good book, a cup of tea, and my phone nearby in case I needed to talk to someone.

And you know what? Those gloom attacks are almost non-existent now. I realize I was feeding them by not caring for myself the rest of the month. Now, when I have a particularly fabulous day and I haven’t been tracking for a while, I’ll whip out my Moon calendar and my 4s4w book and confirm the best instead of the worst. Hey! No wonder I feel my very best today! It’s the Full Moon!

You are More than Your Cycle and Your Cycle is More than Your Period

By 4s4w Lover and Guest Blogger, Sheri Croy
Fall-low-res (2)Chances are, if you were raised in the modern Western world you’ve been conditioned to think of your female cycle at three distinct moments: the moment you have an emotional, passionate, irritable or angry response that someone else deems unreasonable for the circumstance; the moment you see blood, and the moment you don’t see it when it’s expected. Even if you have been raised in a family with a more human centered, body-conscious, healthy view of being a woman, if you are reading this, chances are you’ve been at least witness to the larger Western societal paradigm that has demonized the period — and women with it. If you’ve ever been asked “Where are you in your cycle?” In response to sharing your opinion or stating your feelings, you’ve experienced the demonization first hand. If you’ve ever posed that question to another, or discounted your own feelings and experiences as “PMSing,” you’re (at least a little) conditioned.

What our evolving Western society has done a very good job of with their pills and potions, perfumes and protocols over the last few decades is compartmentalizing the period. Women’s cycles have come to be addressed in terms of PMS and periods — with a focus on the inconvenience, mess and expense of “handling the problem.” Society’s evolution from a family and community centric model in which grandmothers, mothers, aunties and wise women handed down their wisdom to their daughters, nieces and valued young girls is all but lost for the majority of women today. I can sum up what my mother shared with me about my cycle in just a few words, “There are paper towels in the kitchen, just use those.” And when my little sister asked questions I needed my mom to help me answer, her response was, “Your sister can learn about it at school, just like you did.”

I’m not upset about these beginnings; I have tried to do things differently with my daughters — probably to the other extreme (maybe things will even out once I have granddaughters!) In my mom’s case, maybe there was a stigma about discussing “it” with me and my sister. Perhaps my mother had never heard it from her mother. Maybe she was bought in to the cultural idea that your cycle really is nothing more than an inconvenient show of blood once monthly interspersed with some cramping and a few mood swings. Perhaps she was just embarrassed. Or, maybe she just didn’t have anything nice to say, so she chose nothing at all.

The single thing that has made the biggest difference for me — not only in being able to have something nice to say about my cycle — but also having something to hand down to my daughters and help them rise above the stigma and demonization they are plummeted with hundreds of times daily through media, peers and even just interacting with other humans has been the new understanding that my “period” is only one aspect of a vital, dynamic, recirculating cycle. The 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks insights have facilitated such a refreshing and smooth transition for me in thinking and being, I wish I’d had access to this wisdom when I was emerging into womanhood, or at the very least when my girls were younger and I first noticed their mood cycling.

Had I known then, as a young mother, what I know now, I would have known that the predictable moods and behaviors I was seeing acted out in my 5 and 7 year old daughters were just their female blueprints coming into view. I would have been able to guide them better to find times that felt good for talking about the big things affecting their hearts and other times for the big things affecting their minds. I would have been able to show them there are some times that are ideal for playing with our friends and other times that we need to be by ourselves a bit. I would have been able to talk to them about the prime time for building relationships with all their important people and how that time can affect the entire rest of their lives. I would have been able to help them attune to their little bodies and recognize the times for resting and being still and the times for exuberant activity. I could have helped them better to identify the times that felt right for reading, writing or drawing as well as the times that felt right for tackling a big, important project or performing some great feat. I could have done all this in the context of the four seasons.

Even the smallest child can observe the changes in the seasons. The chill of autumn sending us to our cozy jammies and blankets to observe the leaves turning red and falling to the ground; the way the world becomes more quiet under the weight of the sky, the way the plants turn in to the earth, pushing their roots down to prepare for winter. The way winter sends us indoors to play and connect with our families, to snuggle close and watch movies or play games or do crafts activities; the feasts and family celebrations that define our holiday celebrations; the slow building of the light after the winter solstice and the way tiny green shoots appear signaling the approach of spring. The arrival of spring with its lengthening days and bursts of color, birds singing, flowers blooming, rosy cheeks and laughter, the return of shirt-sleeves weather and the joy of spinning and spinning in the sun or rolling down grassy hills. And summer, with its hot, sticky don’t-touch-me, she’s-breathing-my-air days, grass that’s browning with too little water and too harsh of sunlight, flowers in need of dead-heading, and all around, too-hot-for-too-long uncomfortableness. Mother Nature’s seasons, so easy to observe and interact with in my little girls’ lives would have been so easy to translate to their own miniature rhythms, their personal 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks, just as they have been for mine as an adult.

I am finding it easier and easier to navigate my own ebbs and flows, to recognize Week 1, Fall as a time for inward focus, for drawing, writing, resting and recouping; to feel the pull of Week 2, Winter to strengthen my relationships with my spouse, my children, my friends and coworkers, and have the deep heart-to-heart talks at a time when I am closest to my own heart-truth and ability to express myself; to embrace the burgeoning fullness of Week 3, Spring, to acknowledge my inner and outer beauty and allow myself a few indulgences with my partner, to allow my world leader to step forward and offer my truth on the mind-to-mind level; and to steal myself for Week 4, Summer, to face the personal hot-spots head on, to take note of the areas in my life that are breathing-my-air this too-hot week. Instead of pushing off my emotions and passions as a symptom of “PMS,” I’m seeing them through the lens of my pre-menstrual truth telling — journaling and processing in anticipation of releasing what no longer serves me, and taking note of the things I will need to bring up later in my heart-to-heart talks. There is an ease to this way of being, a flow. And every month, every cycle it becomes a little more a part of me. My own rhythm is revealing itself in the most beautiful and powerful way. I’m glad to be finding it now, even at 40, it’s making all the difference for me.

4s4w Week 1, Fall, artwork by Cecile Miranda, 2012

 

Happy Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Anniversary!

At my house, I serve the Thanksgiving meal the day before. That’s because I have extended family members who have extended family members to eat with, and when we have two Thanksgiving Days in a row everyone gets what they want. Each year is a creative exercise in organizing who is going to be where and on what day. Perhaps it sounds gluttonous, but I see it as sort of a 2-day family festival. It’s quite sweet and lovely, factoring in that this comprises of former spouses and in-laws and kids who (bless us all) have figured out how to get along just fine and more than that, enjoy each other’s company. Add solo friends to the mix who don’t necessarily know anyone and the dynamic becomes fresh and curiously interesting.

It was one year ago today, on this same day before Thanksgiving, that my book,4 Seasons in 4 Weeks (4s4w) arrived at my doorstep, or more truthfully, the sidewalk. My driveway is steep, so the cargo truck couldn’t drop the very large mounds of well-bound-by-stretch-wrapped palettes of boxes in my garage, which we hadn’t figured on. I can’t remember how many boxes 5,000 books and journals make up, but each box was carried by my son, Ian, my daughter, Myan, and me up the driveway. Added to the complexity was that the journal and main book came in two ever-so-slightly, different size boxes which made it hard to just pile on top of each other without thought. We had to hurry to get them into the garage because it was starting to rain. We were dressed for Thanksgiving, not hauling heavy boxes of books in the drizzle and impending downpour.

Soon after, our guests arrived and we sat down in gratitude. I passed out books as if they were hors d’oeuvres. It took 7 years to write that book, and we marveled that this labor of love was now in the physical. I’m not sure any of us thought it would actually happen. And the baby was beautiful.

My mother fell ill at that time and passed away three weeks later, so I didn’t go gangbusters at marketing it, although it began to sell anyway. I had an amazing book launch party in Ashland which gave me hope. I stayed consistent with the basics of selling it while the quick responders, from all over the world, were rapidly stepping forward. By the time I had my mojo aligned to get back into the business end of things (which really took months), the slower but steady pace proved to be perfect. By spending the time to observe and allow the process to unfold, I now have a much better idea of who needs the 4s4w information first and why, how it is very different from books on the same topic, as well as how it might be delivered and heard best.

4 Seasons in 4 Weeks is a series and becoming a movement. There will be many offshoots from the main book, as well as workshops and retreats—all in the making as we speak. This year brought some heartwarming speaking engagements & radio interviews and my 2014 calendar is shaping up nicely with many more invitations.

On this Thanksgiving week, please accept my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your ongoing support and enthusiasm. From speaking with the women whom this work resonates, it is a movement worth encouraging. They are feeling informed, aligned, and in-charge of their happiness, which equates to core power, confidence, and courage. Health, relationships, and money issues are beginning to feel solvable and balanced; lighter. Radical shifts toward inner-peace and outer harmony are being made in women’s and couple’s lives.
In a future blog, I’ll discuss the power of what I call, “the Female Way”, and how the lost language of the ancient feminine culture holds a powerful wisdom that is greatly needed at this time for all. This is the work of 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks and why it rings true for so many.

Love and Thanks,

Suzanne

Please visit our website: www.4s4w.com

Rape Culture and More

by Suzanne Mathis McQueen

Monday, November 18, 2013, I’ll be speaking at the Southern Oregon University Fem Fest at 4:45 pm. The title of my talk with be: The Missing Link: The Lost Language of the Female Way, based on the work I do with 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks and evolving, sacred feminism.

At 7 pm, Melissa McEwan will deliver the keynote. She is the author of this outstanding essay on Rape Culture. It’s difficult to find any better description anywhere and I encourage you to read this piece.

Fem Fest 2013

This day long, interactive event involving workshops, presentations and performances delivered by campus and community members, will celebrate and explore intersectional feminist practice, research, activism and creativity. The intention is to create a space where people of diverse identities, with a wide range of interests and passions will be able to explore how feminisms connect to their personal, academic or professional lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Step Forward and Roar—Fiercely

Stand in your core power, Ladies. Within our political and societal power structure the rape issue is getting worse, not better. Today, you must not only protect yourself, but you must protect what women deserve. SAFETY.

This means stepping forward with courage and speaking out.

What does this have to do with 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks (4s4w)?

The female, monthly, rhythmic cycle (which is what 4s4w is all about) is an internal guidance system that helps each woman navigate her strengths and weaknesses in order to make powerful decisions in the moment. It’s the best tool you have for being super present and sharp. Our cycles help us to assess whether we are bringing our authentic selves to our lives and the planet. When we truly get to know our own unique lunar rhythm, we are better able to wisely observe and absorb our surroundings, speak out with grace and surety, or step forward and roar – fiercely.

Right now, more than ever, it’s important to be attentive to this rape issue. Know thyself. When you truly value yourself and know that you deserve to live safely (doing your part to take precautions like any human should), you, in turn, will truly value other women and know that they too deserve to live without threat. The value of women in society is invaluable. Our society needs to learn this.

The stats show that 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes and 1 in 4 will be victims of domestic violence. I’m not OK with this. Are you? We already shed enough blood naturally.

To learn more about tuning into the phenomenal wisdom of your female cycle blueprint, keep following 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks, buy the beautiful book, join a circle (more on this soon), or sign up for the eLetter here at www.4s4w.com.

In good nature and spirit,

Suzanne

My commentary is in response to this article:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/09/03/richard_cohen_and_betsy_karasik_minimize_rape_in_the_pages_of_the_washington.html?wpisrc=most_viral

Are You Cliterate?

http://sacredfeminist.blogspot.com/ by Suzanne Mathis McQueen

Are you Cliterate?

I consider her to be a most important rediscovery.

Her name is “clitoris”, a hugely important pleasure treasure who’s holistic intelligence, secrets, SIZE, and potential for saving one’s sanity has been cruelly banished and kept out for way too long. Along with the female cycle and the VaJayJay, she is yet another locked-away, buried, code of female conduct and function which is finally being unearthed by one interesting author, artist, or everyday woman-after-another in the ongoing effort to reveal the authentic and powerful female—one’s true state of being. 

Sure, anyone who knows anything at all about lovemaking knows to touch, lubricate, rub, massage, lick, or suck the clit. Sometimes it leads to orgasm and sometimes it doesn’t. Certainly and thankfully there are lovers out there who have it going on in this regard, but it’s more than this. We women want more information and sexual equality. We are very interested in knowing exactly how big that thing inside of us is and the role it plays in not only pleasure and orgasm, but bringing respect and happiness back into the lives of women globally. 

In her Ted Talk, Nicole Daedone let’s us know that orgasm through clit attention is the Cure for Hunger in the Western Woman. Mary Roach tells us 10 Things We Didn’t Know About Orgasm. Mara Altman goes on a vision quest for the Big O. 

And now artist, Sophia Wallace, is getting visual.  She wants you to be Cliterate.

The Clitoris’s true potential is not only rarely utilized or focused on, but there seems to be an equal amount of derogatory excuses of why it just isn’t worth the bother, which in turn, tells us that pleasuring women in life is not worth the bother. Worse though, are cultural and societal attitudes and  practices that eliminate the clit altogether in order to eliminate the pleasure of the woman altogether in order to control her behavior altogether. Metaphorically, the elimination of the clitoris can be experienced all around us where women are sexually portrayed virtually everywhere in the media to sell almost every thing, but are ultimately, personally de-feminized in their equal entitlement to sexual pleasure. 

Even though the mostly hidden clitoris is often longer than a not-erect penis, it doesn’t take a genius to note the societal preference given to making sure men are sexually satiated because they “need it” and the presumption that women don’t really care about sex all that much. Take Las Vegas for example (or any other place in the world for that matter). It’s easy for men to buy sexual release and touch if they need it (whether it’s low or high end prostitution), but if you’re a woman? Forget it. The general population believes women would never do such a thing and that we have no such needs. It’s not only ridiculous, but it keeps women feeling lonely, sexually frustrated, not valued, and untouchable. Physically, psychologically, emotionally, or metaphorically, it’s all cruelty toward women and violence against them no matter which way you look at it. And this is what Sophia Wallace is speaking the truth about with her Cliteracy project..

The Clitoris. It’s not enough to know you have one. Claiming Your Clit is yet one more important step to claiming and integrating your female sexuality into your entire holistic and authentic self and knowing what you deserve. 

We’ve only begun, in recent years, talking about the clitoris, orgasm, the female cycle, menopause, and the vagina. Next up: I want to see the world discover a treasured, sacred feminine recipe for reliable contraception, or see created, a form of the birth control pill that is actually good for the female and keeps her hormonal rhythm in tact. For the same reasons these other sexually focused features were excluded from importance and power, finding holistically good-for-the-woman contraception through ancient wisdom or current super science is not coming along quickly.  I know it is out there, but I think unfortunately, it will first take believing that women deserve sovereignty over their female bodies and lives before sincere action will be taken.

“Reproduction really translates to sex and creation. Both can be sacred, and both can be exploited. Both are controversial,and so are women because of them.” ~ 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks: Awakening the Power, Wisdom, and Beauty in Every Woman’s Nature, page xxii

* Huff Post Women, August 2013,