Courage as an Active Surrender: Inanna Descends

Fall has arrived.  This is my first true relational experience with fall and coming winter in over fifteen years. I realize, it's long overdue!  Sometimes we need to experience death and dying, letting go and dissolving. Of course in the tropics, there are its own kind of seasons, however being back on the mainland, surrounded by leaves coloring, reddening and dripping off trees, traces of the tinge of coolness across my face like winter's coming breath is actually a respite to the perpetual summering of wet and dry seasons. As the days begin to shorten, I reflect on the coming darkness and how to welcome winter. I am inspired by one of my favorite epic Goddess myths, The Descent of Inanna.  This myth is one of the most ancient and powerful tales of initiation, in which Inanna descends down into the Underworld to face the Dark Mother, hang on a hook, die and be reborn.  I have written and worked with this story countless times in my women's groups, reclaiming our own dark times as a powerful time of initiation. In my book, Fire of the Goddess, I write, "When we consciously decide to go to the underworld, sacrificing the outer aspects of our little self, we meet the shadow of our larger self, reclaim her and bring her back, empowered." (p. 32).  This is what Sylvia Brinton Perera calls an Active Surrender  in her book, Descent to the Goddess. Active surrender is when we surrender consciously, willingly with our eyes wide open. This is courage.  This is grace, fierce grace. The fullest time of active surrender were both times I gave birth.  Birth is so active, active like a series of violent earthquakes moving through the body; and yet the [...]

Pele’s Pa’oa: The Power of the Fire Stick

For the inhabitants of the Big Island, hardly a week passes without mention of Pele, this island’s personal goddess of the Kilauea volcano and fiery keeper of the lands in Puna and Ka’u district. Mysterious, exciting, passionate and powerful stories abound describing Pele, known as the goddess of fire and lava, She-Who-Shapes-the-Sacred-Land in ancient Hawaiian chants. Her legends tell the epic stories of her beloved family and sisters such as Hi’iaka, the goddess of healing and her countless lovers, many of which met a fiery and desolate end in her lava fields. Contemporary legends speak of an old woman smoking on the side of the road or a young woman in a white dress, both looking for rides, both known to lash out in fury if passed by or rejected. She inspires artists, writers, storytellers and musicians with her power, her fury, her irresistible beauty. She is a goddess who rages and delights in her island land and is beloved by many on Big Island. Knowing that her wrath could strike at any moment in eruptive force, keeps locals and tourists alike in awe and reverence for her immense power. Pele is one of many gods and goddesses found within Hawaiian mythology, story, hula, chant and prayers. However, she is unique to the Big Island because she dwells here, both destroying and creating new land continuously. She is believed to live at Hale Ma’uma’u on the volcano of Kilauea using her famous digging stick known in Hawaiian as o’o or pa’oa to churn up the molten lava from the depths of the earth. Halema’uma’u is named for the Ama’uma’u ferns found within the crater. Pele’s lava handiwork is seen throughout the island in the sharp [...]


This piece began as a vision of walking with brilliant red cloth across the desolate landscapes of the wild craters of Kilauea, to both celebrate and honor the element of Fire.  In this short video, I seek to embody the creative, divine spark that activates our spirits, illuminating our sacred fire within.  Exploring the power of fire as transformation, power, and a healing force, I move through Kilauea Iki on the Big Island of Hawaii.  This crater lays next to the churning caldera, Hale Ma'uma'u, home to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire and lava.  Dancing openly through Pele's handiwork of destruction and creation, I pay my respect to the lehua blossoms, flowers of the first ohia trees, and offer my humble chant to honor the spirit of Fire and receive the sacred messages that Pele has to offer. The Fire of the Goddess is the divine creative spark that resides within us and speaks to us from the depths of our souls.