AWC 2017 Reflections pt. 1
Part 1: Co-Authored by Phoenix Muranetz & Pulxaneeks
What happened this year at the Awakened Woman Convergence was nothing short of miraculous. AWC 2017 was a testament to the fact that miracles do happen, and we are the miracle.
There are no accurate words to describe the feelings being felt even now as I write this reflection piece on what happened. Only deep reverence for the Great Spirit that moves and breathes all of us into greater communion with love and one another.
Deep deep reverence for the men, women and friends who came; as speakers, facilitators, supporters, council, volunteers, attendees, and esteemed guests.
Because what transpired was a living, breathing, powerful prayer of; what awakened leadership really means today, what a world could look like with the right community, how men and women and all those who identify as neither can actually come together to build and experience a new future together.
I’m humbled to my very tender, real and raw core, of the love I witnessed, the support seen and felt, and all those who showed up for themselves and one another.
Chani Nichols’ recent astrological transmission touches on the themes being felt, I think by all of us who were witness to the power of this collective prayer:
"Depth isn’t acquired in a day. It can’t be purchased. It can’t be feigned. It is the gift we receive over time. Over heartbreak. Over earthquakes. Over the accumulations of all acts of love that we allow in.
Depth requires that we learn what to release and what to stay with. What to take responsibility for and what to give back to its rightful owner. What to hold and what to act on.
Depth requires that we move through cycles. Allowing our leaves to fall away like the trees teach us. Allowing our energy drop down into the roots like the plants teach us. Allowing ourselves to move into the healing dark like this season teaches us.
It is impossible to deepen when we don’t give ourselves time to recall. Reflect. Respond to the lessons.”
Awakening is not always beautiful. But it’s oh so worth it.
This year’s themes of Spiritual Unification, Creative Expression, Awakened Sexuality and Divine Communion were living invocations that opened up the energetic space for powerful transformations, not only in our personal lives, but in the world.
It is still painstaking in the honesty it asks of me to very openly, honestly and transparently share the lessons, wisdoms, mistakes, experiences and journey of what it took to get there.
These are just my reflections and lessons on failure, gratitude and learning the lessons behind it all.
This is what the world needs, this is what you deserve, and this is what I need to share as part of my embodying authentic leadership.
Like the inception of a child, Awakened Woman sprang from a deep passion and need for community, conceived from a dream where women of all walks of life, color, backgrounds, and essence could come together in collaboration and sisterhood.
It was given life by women from around the world who trusted in something beyond themselves to travel halfway around the world to converge in Mama Bali, a powerful sacred place of potent energy.
In the space of transition, I was also a new mother in process of ending a painful relationship and learning about sisterhood through a mentorship.
Yet, somewhere along the path, there was still the feeling of isolation, of running into the troubles that still somehow plague women who walk and work together - jealousy, isolation, competition, dishonesty, gossip, and all of the painful ways we tear one another down instead of building one another up.
I found myself, two years later running the company alone, isolated, and the sole steward of something I knew was far more powerful than myself.
I didn’t know how to reach out for support, or how to bring others in to help. Pride, ego, and sense of doing things on my own was still prevalent in my life.
Yet the guidance being received was, “Listen, there is support, this is significant, not only for yourselves but for humankind.”
For the past year, after coming together with a small team of support, I poured every ounce of my heart, soul, spirit and being into this convergence.
Early in March, guidance was received to reach out to an organization in Arizona, Red Feather, who supports various tribes with home repairs. Two weeks later, myself and an assistant flew down to meet them. After being given a tour of their work on Hopi Nation, meeting with Hopi members, and seeing the incredible work being done by different organizations, we knew Arizona was to be the location for AWC 2017.
Shortly upon returning home, I received a powerful dream vision. The Kachina spirits visited me to let me know they were watching, and advised me to feed three curled fingers of an ancient elder to my people.
The signs kept showing up, and the guidance was being listened to.
Feeling that it had to be bigger and bolder than what it already was, feeling that I couldn’t share the truth of what we were coming together to do, we decided on a venue not in alignment with our core mission and values, brought on people who didn’t quite understand the dream, and made commitments bigger than what we could uphold.
Knees on earth, hands on heart - I asked for support.
And also reached out to some incredible women to step in with this work of Indigenous Right Relationship, Pulxaneeks, dear sister, friend and Haisla Nation representative that has been doing reclamation work, along with some other amazing women who came on board as our Sister Council, administrative support, and guidance. Special mention to Jessica and Kandace Betzold who also helped support in so many ways.
Not only two weeks before the convergence, we were unable to commit to the venue due to unexpected costs. After every conceivable possible opportunity to make it work, there was no other choice but to release all hope that it would happen.
After sleepless nights, stress, chaos, and many many tears, I felt the death of this dream.
After days of crying, grieving, mourning, and council with dear friends, I had no other choice but to cancel this year’s event. Even though so many people had committed to coming, had made their travel plans, there seemed to be no way of making it happen.
For anyone who has ever had a dream that was bigger than their own desires, there is nothing quite like the feeling of failing at your path.
No one wants to talk about failing. Especially in this industry of personal growth, development and entrepreneurship.
We are inundated with images of glossy lifestyles, Youtube ads, and Facebook posts all designed to teach us the latest tricks in getting rich, making it big, and becoming an online celebrity.
Yet, no one really shares the hard work, dedication, and often failure that accompanies those who risk everything for a dream.
Just like anything worth having; loving and devoted relationships, life-changing experiences, maturity, well-rounded children, and a fruitful career...they are the byproduct of vision, faith, action and the subsequent failures, mistakes and learning that comes from the journey.
Though failing is just part of learning/experimenting, there is so much shame and guilt around failure.
Schools kick you out for not achieving a grade-status, our societies lock people away for years in the prison system for sometimes seemingly minor infractions, and we wonder why people are afraid to take risks, try something new, and innovate their lives.
And I felt like a failure. I felt like a fraud. I felt like the very opposite of who I was trying to be.
“Letting go of who you think you are to become who you’ve always been in the key”
In hindsight, the invocation of Awakened Woman was the process and journey of The Ego Death, The Dark Goddess of Death. Kali energy burning up everything I thought I was and what this was supposed to be.
In that moment of releasing, letting go, and watching the death of this dream - a miracle happened. A mother came forward. My mother. In full support, care, and love, she believed in me, in this and in us.
With her support and in less than a week, a whole community came forward to help birth this fucking excruciatingly beautiful (yet heavy) baby into the world. In those seven days (and still many sleepless nights), a new (and even more beautiful) venue was found, food, transport, tech, and all other services were procured with the support of these beautiful souls.
I found a renewed sense of support, as I found the lesson of this hard and bitter experience. It gave me a gift in fully appreciating what true sisterhood, community and leadership looks, feels and tastes like.
My sisters and brothers stepped forward, showed up, whole droves of friends let me lean on them, offered support, and even delivered food to my door to ensure I was eating.
Humbled. Open. Seeing. Believing.
This is the community I had been searching for. Yearning for. Dying for.
And they were here. Are here. Together.
As our esteemed guest Chief Phil Lane Jr says, “the hurt of one is the hurt of all. And the honour of one is the honour of all.”
Reunited with our Sister Council of devoted women days before we began, these amazing women helped curate and organize the many important aspects, like altars, flow,scheduling, scripts, tech details and so much more.
Special thanks goes to the Sister Council: Carina MacLaren, Marie Ruzicka, Murielle Marie, Angelina Munaretto, Shannon Ledford, Lauren Kunin, and Sandy Dow. They brought their full selves to this journey of experiencing first hand the journey of flow, surrender, trust and receiving.
They too, had been on their own paths of breakdowns, breakthroughs, and communion with their heart’s desires.
We were united in this desire to weave our pains, our loves, and our dreams into a container for transformation, healing and celebration.
Day 1 - Spiritual Unification was the first day of our Initiation, a reclamation in honouring the Indigenous communities whom had called Arizona home since the dawn of time, whom had also been since displaced from their lands, renamed, and yet still had the compassion to grace our convergence to be honoured.
We welcomed the presence of the Indigenous in the Opening Ceremony; Thosh Collins of the O’Otham (Salt River) Tribe shared his knowledge, Indigenous Wisdom and sacred song. Nine year old Emily Stacy, a local Indigenous girl shared a traditional hoop dance with us, lighting up our hearts with her sweet radiance.
Chief Phil Lane Jr also shared his wise words of his people and as a voice for cultural bridging, guiding and protecting us. Shelly Hayes, the Community Coordinator pulled all these local Indigenous people together and Grandmother Mona Polacca of Hopi Nation was a guiding force throughout this whole journey.
We were also graced by the presence of Dorothy Rhodes and Rosetta Walker who spoke on the Indigenous Voices panel.
After the opening ceremony and panel, Sora Surya No gave her presentation on Death Beyond the Body and illuminating that there is no perfect way to show up and be, that who we are is enough to create connection with the Divine.
Following that we had amazing workshops presented by Denelle Prieto, Miesha Goodwin along with Dorothy Rhodes, and Shelly Hayes who gave a powerful workshop on Historical Trauma and Purpose, sharing with the people the real truth of the Indigenous peoples.
Thosh Collins shared, “I realize that most people would feel uncomfortable welcoming a non-native audience considering the historical circumstances but many of us feel these sort of interactions need to happen in order to increase our people’s visibility amongst the general public; create awareness about our issues; awareness about our rich history and to share our teachings to help re-install humanity.
These are chances to teach from a good place about who we are and dispel myths and misunderstandings about our people. As usual, we found out we're more similar than different. There is only separation if we create it in our minds.”
This separation is one of the greatest collective wounds, and when we stop avoiding the wounds, we face the wounds.
The wounds of colonization
The wounds of being colonized, of being colonizers.
The wounds of being separate, being privileged, being less than.
And in facing them, bringing loving presence to them, finally seeing them - we finally heal them.
Our Indigenous Right Relationship Director Pulxaneeks Love shares her words on this,
“It’s because I see men stepping up, going within and showing up for themselves, supporting each other, arriving into their hearts, healing the wounds of the patriarchy, because I see these things, I’m now in place where I’m willing to work with women. So when I was called upon by Phoenix to work with Awakened Woman, my heart was a YES.
It is my heart’s wish that our Ancestors not be invisible. That we honor where we come from so as to understand where we’re going. I was called upon to invite the involvement of the local Indigenous people whose land the gathering would be taking place on. Before I agreed to this, I needed to know and to see for myself that Phoenix is someone that is devoted to such a bringing together of Ancestors and the many different elements at play in such a journey.
We sat across from one another as she shared, through tears, from the depth of her heart the huge amount of empathy she feels for the hurt of the Indigenous people. As an Indigenous person, being confronted with this much love from a person of mixed European Ancestry is astoundingly powerful.
And so I was in tears, receiving an amazing amount of love into a very hurt place.
This was a contract officiated by the baring of our hearts and the sharing of tears.
Slowly, worlds started to weave together. One conversation at a time, connection was being built, both between myself and the women on the Sister Council, as well as with the First Peoples of the place now known as Arizona.
Trust. The cultivating of trust. This is what was needed.
A devoted and unwavering willingness to bare my heart and receive the truth in the hearts of those on this shared journey, going in the direction of healing the hurts in our blood memory, guided by something much greater than ourselves.
It was shared with me by a few of the women how nervous they were to have a conversation with an Indigenous person.
So I waited, the sometimes long pauses between email exchanges, knowing that there was a shifting occurring that was profound.
Each conversation with all the women who helped make this happen was powerful, often involving tear and the sharing of un’seen truths. I witnessed in humble awe the revealing of that place in each where their connection to the Indigenous is. Listening. Loving. Allowing. Loving more. Giving thanks.
I was pretty adamant about making a connection with a local Indigenous person not through doing an internet search and sending random emails, but through a referral by someone I personally knew.
This meant it took much longer to make an actual connection with a member of the local tribe. September 20th is when I had my first conversation with the lovely Shelly Hayes. Within a few days, she sent me a list of amazing Indigenous women to be a part of this gathering.
Every day from then until the gathering was a lot of phone calls, formal introductions abiding by the teaching of my Elders, coordinations, information exchanges, more phone calls, more planning. An absolute flood of amazing Indigenous people willing to be a part of this vision.
Willing to come and be honored by us. WIlling to show up and see for themselves how respected they can be. I would jump out of bed each morning, called by something much bigger than me, a momentum of monumental shifting that I played a role in.
I wanted to bring the love that these people have for the Indigenous to the awareness of the local First Peoples whose Ancestral lands the gathering would be taking place on. There was sooo much loving respect there for them. More than anything, I wanted them to know this.
More than anything, I want them to know how acknowledged, seen, felt and honored they are.
This journey is bigger than me.
Bigger than this life that I’m living. I’m doing my part to learn and heal from the past seven generations, and apply this to the betterment of the next 7 generations. This journey is bigger than me. I am a strand in this web of all creation, doing my part to stay in my heart and go where it leads, one prayer at a time.”
Part 2 Coming Soon...
Written from the unceded First Nations territory in the place now known as Vancouver Island. The City of Victoria and the surrounding areas lie on the territories of the Lekwungen and Coast Salish peoples, including the Esquimalt, Songhees, and W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations.
Special Mention of Gratitude to Republic of Light for Photography
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