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Virtue of Beauty



THE PRACTICE OF THE PATH OF BEAUTY


I am a woman, whether by Nature or lack of nurture, who has been prone to the darker moods of the Goddess. Powerful. Extreme. Dark as the lightless caverns, the ancient underwater caves bearing the calcium carbonate stalactites and stalagmites projections of the Goddess, Above. Below. With no explanation. Just feeling. Just pregnant folds of the Earth and Water Goddesses, where, as Dylan has sung, “no man comes,” in his rueful Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. True Goddess territory --- this darkling place. Men have their own dark places, their caves above sea-level where they may retreat to ponder and process their wild oats and rams. That is a different darkness; more the absence of solar light. The darkness of which I speak is more the dark side of the moon, unchartered, intuitive, secretive, where we plant and retrieve memories as the time comes for them to be revealed, to share with the Emperor of our pairing. And through this sharing, The Sacred Marriage, new forms come into Being and old forms break away, though the essence of the communion remains eternal and the purpose, as ever, to perpetuate the fruitful harvest, the return of the greening of The Mother Land. So, I see myself as one needing great inspiration and the deepest sacred teachings, to bring myself to life, day by day, day by holy day. Returning from the death of night.

Psychiatrists will ponder my woman’s darkness- year, by unfulfilling year, on end…perhaps offering pill-popping, or electrifying shocks to my brain’s spiral cortex, to wake up the lighter brighter side of me? And in these dismally, un-holistic processes, in truth, I am deadened even further and further… and misled to believe that there is something inherently “wrong” with me…that needs fixing. Yet Hey HO! Good fortune and the blessings of my higher guidance brought me to intertwining paths with a modern-day holy woman (though she would never call herself that). I shall call her Ilana, Little Tree. As once was her stage name.

Actually we met in the raunchy crusty bathroom of Gerdie’s Folk City in Greenwich Village in 1980…well you all must know something of the wildness of the 80s, and our meeting was both wild and very tame. She was lead singer of a band my boyfriend played bass in. This boyfriend had been Ilana’s boyfriend too, just months before our health-fated meeting. The crux of our meeting…a young woman we shared the loo with at intermission for the band, The Golden Dragon, had a bad case of acne. Both I and Ilana were quick to recommend Egyptian clay facials and aloe vera skin toning gel to help this skin-suffering woman achieve better derma-quality. So to say, Ilana and I met on common ground. We were both barely thirty but the oldest of souls in our experience with drugs, men and rock and roll.

While I was a dabbler on The Path of Beauty, Ilana wrote the book. She knew so much about this path of ancient Goddess wisdom that I never faltered in new life customs & beauty/health affirming practices. Not to this day. Of course she taught me many of the particulars of beauty and health (you are only as healthy as your colon, it’s never too early to begin facial exercises, just what minerals are essential and which need pairing with others, the value of leafy greens, that ancient indigenous peoples practiced many of the “secrets” of health and beauty…and of course, most importantly, that beauty emanates from within.)

She always took the time to research the best quality oils for both lubricating our insides (organic coconut, Greek first-pressed raw organic olive oil) and creating intrigue and allure with scents from Egyptian Jasmine to Penang Patchouli. The source of every product was diligently examined to provide maximum positive benefits. She was my first example of The Living Goddess. An archetype I share with my Goddess Circle participants and clients, everyone.

While she is a musician and often lives in less than optimum spaces, they are always perfumed and “soul” directed by rich scented and “purposeful” (good fortune, love, spell unbinding, household happiness) votives, purchased from real-deal bodegas with genuine witches presiding over the thousands of oils, candles, charms, skulls, masks, Rose of Sharon waters, on and on…to anything a modern priestess might need to seed her day. She would often roam the large bins of sale merchandise on 14th street to find the precious silks and cashmeres that hid beneath the mundane. Her sacred alter might include tiny bronze Goddess statuettes of Durga or Laxshmi. Quin Yin or Tara, Tibetan Goddess of Action and Compassion. All that could inspire and offer pathways to creativity and the art of living lovely.

And, too, while my good friend suffers from torturous asthma, this has always seemed all the more reason to be ultra-diligent and disciplined. As she tells it, being in a famous girl-band at 18, she had already done most of her heavy drugs and alcohol early on, and was, by the time I met her, well into enduring good health and beauty. Rituals, both ancient and self-created, that sparked such an inspiration in me, that I have fallen off the path, but always managed to lift myself up and file my calloused toes and heels to pitter patter back on to the path that has kept me, for the most part, young and young at heart.

Please know that I am not speaking of a mere vegetable juice several times a week and cursory tai chi classes here and there. No! Rather a daily, and nightly, practice from head to toe of maintenance and enduring aesthetics that every day, pretty much, can set the stage for new life manifesting in a curious joyful mind and an Aura Cacia (Edgar Cayce products) glowing skin tone - that bespeaks energy flow in opposition to stagnation.

I am sure it must seem silly that practicing the ways and virtues of inner and outer beauty has kept me alive and inspired well into my 60s, but it’s true. More than anything else, rising, and no matter how I feel (for the cracks and fissures of outrageous fortune’s toll on my mind and body) sticking to a strict daily regimen has motivated me to reinvent myself many times over. And over. This is a constant… As I am able to prepare myself for the day, scrubbing the salt-washes, anointing the precious oils, following the rites of heath, eating the life-enriching grains and spices, diving into a chillingly cold ocean tide on an overcast August day…these practices keep me awake and on the path. I hope a path that not only serves my energy, but also serves all whom I touch with the time-honored creation of myself and with my notions and potions of the virtues of beauty and healing.


--- More about the Virtue of Beauty --

Peace: The Virtue of Beauty by C. Forrest McDowell, PhD

 

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