Sky Dancer: my presentation from the Glastonbury Goddess Conference 2015

Here is the full text of my Thursday morning presentation at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference 2015, entitled "Sky Dancer: Flight of the Dakini" for those who were unable to attend or who wanted to revisit some of what I shared. Many thanks for a warm reception!

I dance at the edge of the world
like my Ancestresses before me
I am a sacred vessel.
My blood is indomitable.
Cradling the Now at my breast.
Nurturing the Future unfolding.
There is nothing to fear.
I am a Mother of the New Time.

We are now in year 4 of this prayer project in the US, our Air year, which correlates with the theme of Air for the Conference this year. It makes me so happy to have our Mother of the New Time project journeying side by side with the Glastonbury Goddess Temple's MotherWorld project.

We are currently working on communication, clarity, intellect, and ethics, really exploring what it means to walk in a deep sense of knowing. And right now, our world is sorely in need of Goddess Women who know their own minds and trust their knowing. Yesterday I saw an article online that said, "When did we start trusting so-called experts more than our own eyes?" Allowing ourselves to be in our Knowing is a radical practice of cultivating personal empowerment in light of such phenomena as social media trending (which steers our attention), gas lighting (which denies us our sense of personal authority), and the news media's insistence on feeding us sensationalism where fact and critical thinking would be preferable. 

The practice of trusting my deep and sacred knowing intersects with my Dharma and Goddess practices at an important point: Mind Training. Think of Mind Training as something like cognitive behavioral therapy. It's the process of training ourselves to see things purely for what they really are, seeing deeper than the many accumulated layers of influence that we have been acculturated to. My mother recently told me a story of a restaurant in our small town that changed ownership after 40 years. To their dismay, the new owners found that the grease on the range had not been cleaned in a long time, maybe as long as the restaurant had been there, and it was so thick that no solvent or amount of scrubbing could take it away. They had to hire a specialist with a blow torch to come in and melt through the layers of sticky, waxy residue that were the legacy of years of cooking in that kitchen.

Mind Training is the torch that melts our conditioning: patriarchal conditioning, socio-economic conditioning, family and relationship conditioning, and even the inadvertent conditioning that we give ourselves when we, for any reason, have become complicit in our own oppression. Mind Training gives us techniques to balance ourselves, to cut through the falsehoods we have come to accept or believe, to cut through the stories we tell ourselves about what is happening, and to get to the heart of the matter.

And what is the heart of the matter? It's not actually situational. There is truly only ever one heart of the matter, and it is this: that each breath takes us closer to the end of our lives, that life is precious, and that there is not one moment to waste on anything that does not make our lives, the lives of others, and the world, more whole, healed, compassionate, and aware. 

Mind Training teaches us to drop every other temporary priority or concern in favor of focusing on this one incredibly important eternal priority and concern. It involves deliberately applied techniques of awareness over time that bring us into the reality of the moment rather than lingering stuck in our pain, our stories, our impulses, and our wandering thoughts. It is not a solid state that, once achieved, remains undisturbed and consistent. Life is filled with circumstances that will challenge and task us with new forms of disturbance, beckoning us to return to the basics of meditative practice, though great balance CAN be achieved, and CAN last, if we apply ourselves to practicing it over time.

Take a moment to observe the many errant thoughts, emotions, energies, and priorities that might be competing in your mind right now: worrying about going to the bathroom, if you put enough money in the car park, what you are plan to have for lunch, something someone said that bothered you, some shiny attraction that has grabbed your attention, the itch on your knee...gather these and allow them to swirl in your awareness for a moment...and now, let them go....PHET! 

In Tibet, this sacred syllable PHET is used to cut through all of the mental flotsam and jetsam, bringing us to clarity, bringing us to total presence, here and now, in our heart center. It is a sharp blade of a syllable wielded fearlessly by the Dakinis, the Tibetan enlightened women-cum-goddesses known as Sky Dancers, and it's a magical syllable used to set the mind free when it has become entangled in its own web. Freed from our lower level thoughts, cut adrift into a sea of awareness, we have an opportunity to remember to let go of what doesn't serve us, and to return to the heart of the matter: compassionate awareness.

Let's try it together-- I'll say a word, and then let's all say PHET fiercely to cut it loose and send it on its way:

Patriarchy- PHET
Rape Culture- PHET
Police Brutality- PHET
Economic strain- PHET
Abuse of Mother Earth- PHET
Does anyone have one they'd like to call out?

Drigug, or Kartika...the Dakini's knife

Drigug, or Kartika...the Dakini's knife


This syllable PHET is both a tool for cutting away negativity and detritus, and a reminder that everything, every pain, every pleasure, is temporary, and that the most reliable state of being is neither joy nor sorrow, but crystal-clear compassionate awareness. One might call this awareness the mind of the Cosmic Star Mother. From this state, we can choose less reactive, more conscious steps. This is the purpose of Mind Training: Teaching ourselves to develop a more beneficial viewpoint of compassionate clarity rather than remaining ensnared by our struggles and fantasies.

Think of how many problems this might fix, this choice to operate from a place of crystal-clear compassionate Cosmic awareness rather than chasing our hopes, our fears, or our ruminative thoughts. An addict who seeks refuge in drugs, sex or food, with Mind Training learns to cut through the desire for substances and to direct that desire toward becoming healthy. Two women, feeling angry at one another because they both fancy the same lover, or who are in some sort of competition for social position, with Mind Training learn to cut away their conflict, spiteful words, and gossip in favor of forthright communication, concern for one another's station in life, and realization that there is plenty of room for all at the table of the Goddess. A harried, exhausted mother with a rowdy or stubborn child, who experiences a cycle of anger and guilt that is played out in the use of physical violence, learns with Mind Training to cultivate patience, and to ask for help when she is at the end of her rope, rather than merely charging forward and potentially wounding her relationship with herself and her child.

So, this mind training sounds like a great idea! How do we get some of this magic? Mind Training is both simple to take up, and difficult to accomplish consistently, which is why we call it a "practice." Part of it is understanding that we must learn to challenge ourselves, to truly take up the mantle of courage and face ourselves and the world candidly, on all levels. As priestesses and practitioners, we are the ones who "walk between the worlds." We have the freedom, and the ability, to move between states of being and realms of existence.

In the Tibetan view, there are three realms of our existence: the nirmanakaya, the samboghakaya, and the dharmakaya. These loosely translate to mean Earth, or our practical daily reality; Myth, or our streams of thought and emotion, and Eternity, or the ground of being/the Absolute. These realms of existence are both distinct from one another and simultaneously part of a single fabric of Knowingness. A way we might understand this is to think of the sun- in the Earthly sense, the sun is a ball of burning gas. In the mythic sense, the sun is something personified - a body that rises and sets. In the Absolute sense, the sun is Pure Light.

Our physical toil and pain happen in the realm of Earth. Our emotions, beliefs, and stories about what is happening exist in the realm of Myth, and our undifferentiated thoughts of all sorts arise and dissipate in the Ground of Being that is Eternity. One might say that Eternity, in this view, is the simultaneously generative and receptive force, the Cosmic Star Mother, and that our thoughts are star seeds planted in Her vast body that may now or later actuate in our karmic stream. 

If we lose sight of the priority of compassionate awareness in any of these realms, that realm becomes unsustainable. We can become overwhelmed with our pain, our emotions, or our thoughts. We can become selfish rather than self-caring. We can find ourselves feeling dislodged from our center, or disconnected from the Earthly, Mythic, and Eternal energies of the Goddess. It's alarmingly easy for this to happen, even for an experienced practitioner. The work of Pema Chödrön addresses this well, in her book and CD called Always Maintain a Joyful Mind. To attain a more stable mastery of the self, we are reminded by Ani Pema, and others, that our relationship to these three realms can be conditioned with Mind Training. 

One way we can pursue the points of Mind Training is by embodying the spirit of the Sky Dancer, the Khandro, the Dakini. What is the Dakini? She is mysterious, difficult to grasp. As I mentioned in my workshop yesterday, she has meaning on many levels: she is elemental, she is physical, she is embodied, she is spiritual, she is ephemeral, she is definite, she is ineffable. She is of the moment, and she is eternal. She lives in the spaces in between. She remains appreciatively unattached to physical objects, and even relationships, contemplating everything with a sense of flow. She remains compassionate even in times when things are very challenging, understanding that she is not separate from that which challenges her. And she refutes the coldness of indifference to the suffering of others, engaging up to the elbows in the realities of life, even the painful ones. She is fierce in her love, devoted in her practice, nonjudgmental in the face of humanity's flaws, and uncompromising in her insistence that all is sacred, all is the body of the Cosmic Star Mother. She is the dynamic principle that appears in the spaces of Silence, Passion, Action, and Contradiction. She is Knowingness, yet is not overly attached to her own opinions, always leaning in to the new and emerging lessons.

If you feel drawn to being the Khandro, to embodying the Dakini, traversing the realms of Earth, Myth, and Eternity, and if you resonate with the mysteries of the Cosmic Star Mother as I have described today, I encourage you to look into Mind Training. Even if you do not choose to pursue the Tibetan forms, you can still follow a relatively simple formula to help you return from the places of confusion or disturbance that trouble you. The formula is Thought, Word, Action. 

Remember that everything, everything that exists, begins in the realm of Eternity as a Thought. Many thoughts arise in our minds every day. Not all of them are beneficial. Sifting one's thoughts selectively is an important skill to develop, to help us manifest deliberately rather than inadvertently the seeds we cultivate in the body of the cosmic Star Mother. The viable ones of these chosen seeds then proceed through the germination process via the Word, which begins to connect the manifestation with the realm of Myth. The stories we tell ourselves and others about what we want, intend, and need are influential upon what will actually happen, what will actually come to pass. Finally, the purpose-driven fruit of manifestation in the Earthly realm is Action, the specific steps of accountability we each must take to build and sustain material reality. As a Khandro, as a Dakini, you have the power to train your mind to traverse these realms of Earth, Myth, and Eternity skillfully with the formula of Thought, Word, and Action. In so doing over time, you begin to develop a reliable view from the perspective of the Cosmic Star Mother, who brings all into being, and who receives all at its end. Use the power of this formula and the perspective it helps you develop confidently, compassionately, and wisely, and may your good works manifest with great support, for the benefit of all beings.

Speaking of which, there is a very special project I'd like to draw your attention to: Tsogyal Rising. In 1959 there were over 2700 Temples in Tibet. As of 1978 there were only 7 left. The nuns of Tsogyal Latso are undertaking the incredible task of building the first major goddess temple in Tibet since the cultural revolution. It's a dream come true for them, and for thousands of practitioners worldwide. The website for the project is It's currently in English, Francais, Español, Portuges, and Chinese. We are currently looking for volunteers to help us translate it into Deutsch and other languages. If you'd like to be part of a global sisterhood of support for these 16 amazing Tibetan nuns who are achieving what formerly seemed impossible, in the name of their Goddess, please donate or help us translate the site.

Thank you for having me here, for being Cosmic Star Mothers and Mothers of the New Time in your own right. Step by step, our global sisterhood is rising. Together, by supporting one another, we are womanifesting the MotherWorld.