This week I’d like to welcome my friend Siobhan Mac Mahon as guest blogger. Siobhan and I met in Salerno, Italy, this summer when we both attended the 100Thousand Poets for Change Conference. We shared some lovely meals in Salerno and discovered our mutual love of using language and poetry to help people heal. Siobhan is originally from Dublin, Ireland, and her poetry sings with the fierce fire of Celtic wit and humor. Welcome, Siobhan!
I am not very good at ‘Letting Go’. You would only have to cast your eyes around some of the messy, and as yet, unresolved areas of my life, (of which there are a few) to surmise that perhaps a good spring-cleaning might be in order!
Neither am I very good at letting go of things (Though don’t let on to my mother, whom I recently berated when helping her clear her house – a house groaning with things, every cupboard packed full of memories and 50 years of family life) They say that you turn into your mother and my cluttered house is beginning to resemble hers! A house littered with books, plants, candles, art, feathers collected on my woodland walks, pebbles from the west coast of Ireland, half- finished poems, photos, notebooks and journals….. Pieces of paper with inspirational quotes adorn my fridge door, making it difficult to get at the basics of life inside – milk, cheese, eggs. Not to mention the old clothes that I can’t bear to get rid of, the ridiculously high – and very uncomfortable – sequinned shoes that I will never wear again, but which remind me of glamour and glitter, the smart suit that I never have the occasion to wear, but which never-the-less represents to me the possibility of, one day, being more organised, efficient and possibly even in control of my life.
But what I am really struggling to let go of is a very old mind-set, much older than me or my mother or her mother before her; the mind-set of patriarchy. A mind-set that that has divorced the sacred from the body and from the earth and has banished it into some nebulous and ethereal realm, where it is ruled over by a judgemental and fearful God. A God whom we must eternally appease, seek on bended knees and in whose name we wreak war, destruction and violence on others and claim ‘dominion’ over the Earth.
Perhaps the truth is much simpler and more beautiful than this and perhaps what I need to let go of, more than anything, is the seeking for ‘enlightenment’/a God/the Divine – whatever you might call it – outside of the here, the now, the ‘ordinary’ Perhaps I could let go of my old conditioned mind-set and trust my inner wisdom which tells me that the Earth herself is sacred: Her rivers, seas, mountains, forests and wildlife and that we are the guardians of this beautiful planet; each of us with our own unique and beautiful song to sing and that together we create – ‘a symphony of wild delight’
But in the long struggle to let go of this mind-set, I find I meet the demons of doubt, fear, pride, guilt, despair and shame along the way. They ambush me when I am least expecting them, appearing in many different disguises- vicious, tenacious and voracious – they have, at times, crippled me. Especially shame and doubt. Those two are the most persistent. As a woman I carry within the very cells of my body centuries of shame and of silencing, and yet also, a memory of something more beautiful, something forgotten but always present, something sacred that lives and breathes within our bodies and within the Earth. Something beautiful and essential to life which has always been carried, silently, in the darkness of our bodies, which is now being re-born into the world
This is why I write. I write to remember the language of the Divine Feminine; a language that does not separate the body from the sacred, the soul from the soil. I write to break the silence of shame and of doubt, to clear out – de-clutter – my inner house. I write to name and to honour the wisdom, the power, the beauty, the un-tamed wildness and the sacred sensuality that lives and breathes within our bodies and the body of the Earth. I write to find a way home out of the deep forest of our forgetting. I write to dispel the demons – and on a good day – to laugh at their ridiculous antics!
As for my house, perhaps a little de-clutter wouldn’t go amiss after all! But I’ll keep the inspirational quotes on my fridge; the books, the pebbles, the feathers, the art, the candles and the half-finished poems littering my home. Perhaps I’ll even dust down those sequinned shoes and go dancing in them!
Mapping a New Reality
by Siobhan Mac Mahon
When all the old paths
have been concreted over,
the way forgotten.
When words shape-shift
beneath your feet,
spelling another reality,
When you don’t know
what to pray for anymore,
let alone to whom – you must leave
Behind The broken compasses,
burn The man-made maps
and head for home,
Following the knowing
in your bones, the aching
of your heart,
The song-line of your body.
Bio: Siobhan is Irish Performance Poet, living in Yorkshire, she performs widely in England, Ireland and Europe. Her poems, powerful and often funny, celebrate the beauty of the Earth and the return of the Sacred Feminine. She pokes fun at rigid, patriarchal religions and structures, giving voice to the outrageous, the silenced and the banished (and that’s just before she has her breakfast!)
Siobhan has been writing and performing her poetry, collaborating with other artists and creating mayhem/Spoken word projects for over 20 years, including the Arts Council funded projects – The Mouth of the Cave and Voices of Women. She has recently completed a short poetry film.