Portals to the Self
Retreats for Women Seeking Grounding and Grace
the circle sisters news

Summer 2014 Newsletter
Accessing the Divine Feminine - Greece 2014

As some of you know, Karen and I and twenty two Grecian Goddess sisters just returned from a spiritual journey in Greece.  I think we have all been slowly unpacking and will continue to unpack psychologically and spiritually from this trip for a very long time.  The luminous, loving, challenging experiences and gifts we received are potent and prodigious.  How we manifest the gifts we gave and received will unfold as we go forward in both our ascents and descents as we walk the labyrinth of our lives.
There is one story I feel compelled to share about my experience of the embodiment of the Goddess shining through a woman we met in Crete.  Her name is Katerina and she is full of the knowledge, power and energies of the great Goddesses Hestia and Hera.  In her embodiment, we see and feel and sense the Goddess and recognize that the Goddess is alive, present and available for all of us!
We were exploring the ancient town of Rethymno in Crete, with our amazing guide and sister Ioanna.  She took us to meet a couple named, Katerina and George Haddziparashos, who are one of the last families who still make baklava by hand.  The scent of their magical pastry…phyllo dough sheets layered with nuts and honey, fills the bakery as we enter (the honey bee is beloved by the great Goddess, and bee and hive icons are prominent in Neolithic art.)  George’s hands are gnarled like the myrtle tree's roots from his long and hard labor.  Katerina’s eyes are bright as a hawk, smiling and gesturing us into their bakery.  We troop in…eager, respectful and expectant.  Sure enough a performance is coming as George twirls and lifts the paper thin dough and throws it like pizza dough into the air!
But meanwhile, it is Katerina's rapier focus that I sense and as I meet her eyes she is transfixed on my Hestia/Hera peacock bag that is snuggled against my hip.  We didn't have a common language, but we certainly spoke…she in her instant recognition of the old symbols, and me in my immense pleasure at speaking in a mythological language which is still living and breathing.  She spoke in Greek to Ioanna, with hands cupping her lips, giggles escaping from the corners of her mouth.  Ioanna, meeting my eyes, acknowledged the moment.  We knew we were in the presence of a whole and healthy Hestia/ Hera woman, who held her heart in a devoted relationship with a partner that she baked with and the family they created.  She literally warmed the hearth each day, lighting the fire in the ovens to prepare sweets for all who desired them.
My gorgeous peacock bag had been made by an artisan from Etsy.  Peacocks have been coming on in powerful ways for the last several years in my life, so when I saw this beautiful purse, it was clear to me that the vibrant iridescent colored feathers wanted to come along to Greece and be a part of the adventure!  At this moment, it was practically leaping off my shoulder to meet Katerina!  As I slowly snaked my way through my sisters to reach her, I could feel tears beneath my lashes. The name of our retreat was "Dreaming with the Goddess" and in this slow, honeyed moment of recognition, I felt the most profound gratitude to have received the call and presence of the Goddess since my childhood, literally, learning Greek mythology on my mother's lap.
When I reached her side we grabbed each other's hand.  Her eyes were fierce and kind, with some shyness as well.  I whispered to Ioanna, "I want to give Katerina the purse. She should have it.  It came along for her."  Ioanna responded that she would be too shy to take the bag, so I found a little spot in the back of the kitchen to stash the bag, but that didn't feel right either.  I didn't want to embarrass Katerina, but I needed to recognize her, to acknowledge the connection the Goddess creates among all women.  We had recognized each other.  So I gave her the bag and Ioanna translated what had already been said, without words, between she and I, and I was then presented with a box of baklava…heavenly…made with such love, hard work and skill.
Sometimes it seems like a lot of hard work, the re-membering, the re-creating, the life work devoted to returning the ascendancy of the Divine Feminine, but here in Crete, the veil is so thin, that in a blink of an eye, a peacock feather reunites and re-establishes the truth of our divinity…in an instant…effortless and transcendent and very sweet!
Love and blessings,

Ceci and Karen



                                                                                                                 photos by Nancy Cox


This morning
two mockingbirds
in the green field
were spinning and tossing
the white ribbons
of their songs
into the air.
I had nothing
better to do
than listen.
I mean this
In Greece,
a long time ago,
an old couple
opened their door
to two strangers
who were,
it soon appeared,
not men at all,
but gods.
It is my favorite story--
how the old couple
had almost nothing to give
but their willingness
to be attentive--
but for this alone
the gods loved them
and blessed them--
when they rose
out of their mortal bodies,
like a million particles of water
from a fountain,
the light
swept into all the corners
of the cottage,
and the old couple,
shaken with understanding,
bowed down--
but still they asked for nothing
but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished,
clapping their great wings.
Wherever it was
I was supposed to be
this morning--
whatever it was I said
I would be doing--
I was standing
at the edge of the field--
I was hurrying
through my own soul,
opening its dark doors--
I was leaning out;
I was listening.

                           - Mary Oliver                                              

Register Now!  Isla Women's Retreat in  2015

March 14- 21, 2015

Portals to the Self: A Women's Circle by the Sea
Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Space is limited
We invite women to gather for retreat and replenishment on Isla Mujeres, an island in the tranquil turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean.  This island is sacred to Ixchel, the Mayan Moon Goddess and historically a place for healing rituals among the Mayan people. We will create a circle of abundance, compassion and support as we weave together our stories and wisdom.  By honoring Ixchel’s tradition, we become midwives of our dreams and visions. Storytelling, yoga, journaling, poetry, guided imagery, and more…will serve as forms to access the blessings and beauty that flow in each of us.  Participants stay at Na Balam, an intimate, boutique hotel on the beach where landscaped trails, tropical gardens and the beauty of the ocean will provide a perfect abode for the retreat. 

Please visit our website for pictures of our retreats and more informationOur Facebook page is Portals to the Self.   Feel free to email us also!

We would like to highlight the organization Not For Sale in this issue of our Newsletter.  There are 30 million slaves today, more than at any other time in history. Men, women and children around the world are forced to work without pay, and the number of those living at risk is growing. Not For Sale protects people and communities from human trafficking.
Men, women, and children are sold into a $150 billion annual market for sex and labor. This is happening globally, and domestically; in urban and suburban areas; in hotels, restaurants, and on street corners. Slavery is wrapped up in almost every industry’s supply chain, tainting the food we eat, the clothes we buy, and the electronics we love. After the international drug trade, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second- largest criminal industry in the world.
To break the cycle of exploitation, Not For Sale provides survivors and at-risk communities with shelter, healthcare, and legal services to stabilize individuals who have endured a traumatic past. Education and job training programs prepare individuals with the skills they need to pursue a sustainable future. Once individuals are able to provide for themselves, the cycle of exploitation in which they were trapped will be broken.


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