As part of the autumnal Equinox Vision Quest, I facilitated a discussion on the Anishinabe teachings of the 4 Gifts of the Woman. As we sat beneath Grandmother Cedar, we discussed the light and the shadow side of each gift and how the medicine that we carry is related to life and to our responsibilities toward self, families, communities, and the land. At the same time, in a different location, the men were discussing their gifts. In the end we came together and talked about the importance of integrating the feminine and the masculine into our consciousness. We shared what we learned so that we could come to a point of understanding about each other, our gifts, and our roles. The four feminine gifts are: Unconditional Love, Creation, Cleansing, and Change.


As a woman, my body undergoes many transformations from Maiden, to Mother, to Crone. I managed to transition through the first two of these stages with curiosity, joy, and excitement. It was easy and I welcomed the change. The transition from Mother to Crone, though, has been difficult; I was not ready for this transition. In many ways I feel like I was shoved into this new life phase without any warning. In October of 2009, I discovered, much to my joy, that I was pregnant. It was unexpected but we were very happy and looking forward to meeting and welcoming a new child into this world. Things didn’t quite work out as we expected. By the end of January I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. The onset of this cancer resulted in a miscarriage, and the ensuing treatment in full blown menopause. One day, I was carrying life within my womb and the next I was childless and unable to conceive again. To add to the trauma, the cancer ate holes through my bones, literally doubling me over in pain. As a 40 year old woman I was as physically frail as my Grandmother.  I have had to come to terms with my own mortality (talk about a humbling experience) and uncertainty has taken on new meaning. I have grieved and have spent many hours in contemplation. My family and my community have rallied around me and have held me gently in their embrace. This has caused me to witness, first hand, the power that communal energy can have on healing.  Nature, ritual, and ceremony have also helped me through this transition. I have spent time with Death and am growing more comfortable walking hand in hand with him. In doing so, I have become more keenly aware of the beauty that surrounds me and of the miraculous process of birth and life. In many ways, I have been reborn. 


The last couple of years have been a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual journey. Although you will never hear me said I am glad I have cancer, I am settled with the changes that have taken place and am filled with gratitude for the shift in consciousness that has occurred. The rite of passage in the midst of which I find myself is guiding me in stepping into a new role within my community and in many respects I feel stronger in my gifts. I understand more deeply Unconditional Love, my tears and acceptance of this all have taught me the true meaning of Cleansing, I see that there are many ways that I can honour the gift of Creation, and the way in which I have embraced this Change has been transformative. There has been grief for the things that are no longer. Many tears have been shed but I am able to see that that grief is deeply steeped in love; beautiful, heart-wrenching love.


I believe that change always results in a shift in consciousness. Processing it well is what results in transformation.  As Summer shape shifts into Autumn I am curious to know how the change of season is manifesting in your life. I look forward to hearing your words.