Creating Sanctuary to Reclaim Freedom

One week ago marked the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 WTC tragedy. It was certainly a day of mixed emotions. Countless happenings throughout the city brought together residents & tourists alike to confront and share the feelings, images, memories, and various aftershocks stemming from that fateful event. In this space of raw human need and communion, I made my way to the serene yet vibrant Be Wild Woman Center for

Wild Woman Art Gallery: My Body is My Sanctuary
Freedom Salon ~ Honoring 9/11 with Beauty & Joy

I had been excited about the art gallery for several weeks already, as it had initially been scheduled to take place for a charmed third time at the Walt Shamel Community Garden’s annual Art on Dean show (i.e., until Hurricane Irene danced across the East Coast and rained all over our parade!).

So I donned my wild womyn artist’s hat and rummaged through my magic box of words. Finding poems to fit the theme was fairly easy; making something purely literary into a visual piece was the challenge. I was primed for marvelous possibilities, however, and it wasn’t long before the *BEST IDEA EVER* sparked in my consciousness.

Pictured here is my hand-crafted replica of a Sheela na gig giving birth to three of my poems. Materials include terra cotta air-drying clay, Spanish moss, paints and ink, paper, ribbons, pennies, buttons, and glitter.

Fascinated by the abundance and diversity of goddess figurine artifacts from around the world, I was drawn to the Sheela na gig in particular because of her daringness to be completely exposed. One can barely take one’s eyes away from her larger-than-life vulva, which she shamelessly holds wide open for all to see. At the same time, however, she is not a conventionally sexy or beautiful woman; her bug-eyes, often withered skin, and occasionally fearsome countenance can be startling, even slightly disturbing.

Becoming comfortable with my body, just as it is, and allowing myself to be vulnerable have been a major part of my self-actualization & healing journey. Creating sanctuary in my body has meant learning to embrace ALL of it, light and shadow, the ‘beautiful’ and the ‘ugly,’ the parts that are soft & juicy as well as those that are rigid & painful.

And it is only within the past 3-4 years that I began to write poetry about my body. Before, my writing reflected more from my emotional and mental realms, so it was interesting to retrospectively witness in the midst of this project my shift to include the physical in all its rawness, vivid colors and shapes. The main themes explored in the three poems I chose for my Sheela na gig piece are menstruation (“moon blood”) and the different ways in which the body is measured and thus categorized.

I absolutely loved being able to both do and share with others this creative experiment of mine. My Sheela na gig joined the company of several amazing artworks by wild women Kiana Love, Olivia Wilber (Liv Arts), Anita Teresa, Elena Simon (Tiger Lil-e), Krupa Devi, and Dana Divine. As we toured the gallery, each artist had the opportunity to speak about her work and how the body as sanctuary manifests therein.

How wonderful to hear and express, in one’s own words, how wildness shows up not just conceptually but in living reality for each of us – and then to feast on deliciously fresh foods, plants our seeds of intention, send our prayers sailing with the angels, reclaim freedom through movement and sound, and continue the work & play of being sacred mirrors for each other, inspiring, empowering, healing.

Even in the midst of suffering, we can celebrate life.

>> Recommended site: The Sheela Na Gig Project

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