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Sage, Huntress, Lover, Queen, by Mara Banscombe

Sage, Huntress, Lover, Queen: Access Your Power and Creativity through Sacred Female Archetypes, by Mara Banscombe
Findhorn Press, 978-1644117934, 256 pages, July 2023

Sage, Huntress, Lover, Queen: Access Your Power and Creativity through Sacred Female Archetypes by Mara Banscombe has managed to bring a balance of self-reflection and immediate application to the mysteries of the Sacred Feminine. Reaching deeply into the core of what the nature of the sacred is, Branscombe has crafted a book that allows the reader to feel the power held within these mysteries. All the while, she coalesces what is truly soul-searching work into actions and thought processes that are accessible and resonant at every level for any reader.

This book has the structure of seven feminine archetypes: the Maiden, Mother, Sage, Huntress, Lover, Mystic and Queen. Each archetype has been given secondary assignations that are easily recognizable and immediately bring to mind visual experience of how these archetypes might appear in physical form.  

Branscombe describes the Maiden as the Underworld Explorer using the familiarity of the story of Persephone as template for that journey.

“To embody the Maiden archetype is to reclaim creativity, gather courage, restore faith in your biggest dreams, and live with a lust for life.”1

The Mother is the Earth Matrix that knows how to protect, guide, sustain, and create.

“The embodied Mother greets her masculine spark to enhance her feminine frequency. Embracing her inner child, she discovers the world with an awakened vision, choosing love over comparison, acceptance over judgment.”2

The Sage is the Water Healer gathering her power from the flow of deep waters of gnosis and wisdom.

“The Sage flows with change, while staying present to her evolving intuitive process.  She cultivates a peaceful inner life while sharing her visionary’s wisdom with the world. The sage does not sleep her life into being. Like the healing hands of the grandmother, she gathers her current materials and weaves them into her cloak of knowledge.”3

The Huntress is the Fire Generator that catalyzes and becomes the path towards right action.

“The embodied Huntress has the true spirit of the warrior and empowers herself and others to live life to the fullest. Her life purpose is fueled by her devotion to be in service to her impassioned cause. The Huntress teaches us how to ignite our true essence and share it unapologetically with the world.”4

The Lover is the Air Alchemist who teaches the lessons of self-love and acceptance to cultivate healthy and strong relationships at all levels of being.

“The Lover understands that self-awareness is her superpower inside any relationship. Her boundaries are clear, either refined or porous as needed. She is wild at heart and stays true to her mission; to source the pure frequency of love while going as deep into the realms of intimacy as possible in this lifetime.5

The Mystic is the Ethereal Time Traveler who remains rooted and anchored in corporeal existence because this is the path to cosmic understanding.

“The feminine Mystic’s power is expansive. Energy can be sensed within, above, below and all around. She uses this information to respond to her soul’s calling. Paying close attention to the sacred experiences coming alive in this human body is the work of the Mystic.6

And, The Queen as the Universal Thought Weaver who commands ultimate authority over self through experience and indomitable self-awareness and confidence.

“The Queen embodies wholeness. She is a clear channel of refined inner strength. She is both movement and stillness, wisdom and inquiry, surrender and activation.”7

This book is thoughtfully separated into eight chapters, a robust Introduction (“Evoking the Divine Feminine Way”), and “Revealing the Archetypes and Appendix: Rituals and Wisdom Practices to Embody the Archetypes”, which indexes the rituals throughout the book for quick reference. I really liked this addition of indexing and thought there was an abundance of opportunity in using it as a checklist, of sorts, to mark the highlights of your journey through the archetypes. 

Each of the chapters provides the reader with a bounty of information and techniques of approach and awakening the specific archetype of focus within the reader. Branscombe takes the reader through informed step-by-step creative practices, guided visualizations, rituals, and poetry to help the reader embody each archetype and activate a life of fulfillment and happiness

The journal prompts were spot on for each of the archetype chapters and rather than a one size fits all approach to the other self-directed work to be completed, each chapter contained just the right combination of foci and intention to really push the reader to examine more deeply and thus, effect change more deeply.

I was particularly drawn to “Chapter 6 – Awakening the Mystic: Truth Seeker, Vision Holder, Divine Space Explorer”. Typically, the term “Mystic” has been associated with spiritual practice that aligned more with Eastern philosophies and applications. The image of the Mystic has been that of one who has hermited themselves away from the world and immerses totally in the Divine. These are true, but Branscombe has also brought that term into Western practice and more specifically as an archetype of the sacred feminine. The first portion of this chapter answers quite nicely who the mystic is:

“Anchored to the earth and attuned to her inner voice, the feminine Mystic embodies an otherworldly, enigmatic presence. Drawn to the numinous, spirited, and ethereal frequencies, she imbibes the natural magic and shares it freely with the world…The modern Mystic trusts the power of Divine timing. She embodies a heightened awareness to what happens in the natural world and to the ordinary synchronicities in everyday life… The Mystic walks the earth sharing her gifts with all sentient beings while tuning in to the realm of the skies.”8

One of the underpinnings of this chapter, that I would say also is true of other archetypes and development of their potential, is that of illusion that can be found on any spiritual path, particularly one of self-growth.

“Go beyond the smoke and mirrors of certain spiritual practices. Be aware when you are following a spiritual teacher to fit into a mold or generate a false sense of security.”9

Would I Recommend?

Sage, Huntress, Lover, Queen: Access Your Power and Creativity through Sacred Female Archetypes is a treasure of accessible and inspirational content. Throughout the book the reader will find little gems of poem and inspired verse from Banscombe that provide yet another way of engaging those archetypes within self.  This book is a rich and self-empowering and deeply immersive journey into the many facets of power and expression that we hold as sentient beings. Reading this book is an opportunity for reclaiming of these archetypes that have inspired and catalyzed transformative change throughout the evolution of the feminine and HER mysteries. 

About the Author: Mara Branscombe

Mara Branscombe is an author, mother, yogi, artist, teacher, mindfulness leader, ceremonialist, and spiritual coach. Her mission is to amplify wellness and creativity while supporting others to live their best life. She is passionate about weaving the art of mindfulness, self-care, creativity, mind-body practices, and earth-based rituals into her life and work. Mara has been teaching and leading ceremony since 2000.

The Creative Pendulum, by Joan Rose Staffen

The Creative Pendulum: Keys to Unlock Your Innovative Spirit, by Joan Rose Staffen
Red Wheel Weiser, 9781578637515, 288 pages, June 2022

The Creative Pendulum: Keys to Unlock Your Innovative Spirit by Joan Rose Staffen got me out of a creative rut in the most fun way. It had been a while since I’d used my pendulum, but after a quick dust-off, I remembered how much insight I used to get from this method of divination. It seems I had forgotten the myriad of possibilities that came from tuning into my higher consciousness in order to figure out what was needed in my life.

Until reading this book though, I had never thought to practically weave together my creativity and work life by dowsing with my pendulum. But Staffen provided me with a marvelous gift of ingenuity in this book that inspired a renewed interest in the pendulum as a divination tool while also relighting my spiritual spark.

I will say right off the bat what I liked most about this book is Staffen’s openness, humor, and willingness to think outside the box that pours through every page. This pendulum technique is so unique and quickly ignites new insights. And I feel this technique works because Staffen has pulled from her life experience to create a method that is practical, creative, and spiritual all in one.

Anecdote after anecdote showcases how Staffen deepned her creative practice and expanded her wisdom through trusting the process. For instance, how she once “spent a year asking God/Goddess for my right, perfect place, opportunity, and company”1 before launching her business venture. Reading her stories is not only amusing, but also reaffirms that we always have the opportunity to try new things, learn, and grow; this has helped her navigate through plenty of career changes and shifts in life circumstances. Through the ups and downs in life, Staffen reminds us that the Muse is always present – all we need to do is tune into the energy at hand.

But even though this book is wonderfully infused with Staffen’s spirit, the focus remains centered on readers expanding their life, overcoming roadblocks, and connecting with their own creativity. Staffen has created Intuitive Creativity Charts that the reader can use their pendulum to gain a deeper understanding of what is being called for in their life right now. The technique she teaches in this book involves dowsing with the pendulum over the Intuitive Creativity Charts for guidance that goes beyond simply “yes/no” answers, the more simple and commonly used method of working with a pendulum.

For those of you who might not know how pendulums work through the process of dowsing, Staffen provides a great description:

“Dowsing has both scientific and mystical elements that help us tap into both our subconscious and super-conscious minds. Using the pendulum can help us to center emotionally and spiritually, and we can more easily open to a meditative state, where we become calm, relaxed, and receptive to the suggestions presented by the pendulum and charts.”2

Chapter two, “Learn to Dowse with the Pendulum,” provides all the information needed to get started, even if you’re completely new to this method of divination. Staffen provides details such as where and when to use one’s pendulum, how to center yourself for accurate results, and what to do if your dowsing isn’t working. She also shares with readers step-by-step instructions for how to dowse, which is very easy to follow along with. As with anything, practice is important, so even if at first you’re a bit skeptical or unsure, I recommend keep going!

Now, while the main premise of the book is teaching readers how to use the Intuitive Creativity Charts, it includes a heap of creative life-coaching. Staffen goes chapter by chapter explaining the significance of each chart, illuminating how it can be used for insight, as well as explaining all of the potential chart pendulum answers to clarify the messages that might come through. But these aren’t static explanations, such as “If your pendulum lands on this then it means xyz..” Rather, it’s almost like Staffen is coaching you through understanding the answers revealed. 

Oftentimes there are exercises to do, like meditations and journal prompts, to ground the insight and find out what it means for you personally. And it’s this delivery from Staffen, focused on process more than result, that makes the book so creatively stimulating. Dowsing with the Intuitive Creative Charts is not meant to be a one-size fits all approach! And I was amazed at all the guidance available using the charts. Staffen has done a great job of charting questions you might not even have ever thought to ask.

There’s a chart for answering questions about one’s creative process (“What literary/performing/visual art should I pursue?” and “What artistic needs do I have?”), timing (“When’s the best time to take action?”), energy work (“How can I clear my chakras?” and “How can I overcome negative beliefs?”), business strategy (“How can I market my art?” and “What is the best income stream for me?”), plus so much more! I honestly have spent hours trying out different charts and am always so surprised by the accuracy of the pendulum responses.

And this guidance is tailored to recognize a multitude of paths, rather than a prescriptive “it has to be this way to work” model, that opens new doorways, especially when one starts to layer and sift through all the insight they’re getting from the perspective of each chart.

Once you’re comfortable with the technique, I’ve found it’s useful to use charts in combination. For instance, I use my pendulum to dowse for questions related to my creative identity and how to improve my income stream. (I try not to ask too many questions at once, even though I want to!) Quickly, I saw how the answers were interrelated and urging me in a new direction.

One really neat thing about The Creative Pendulum is how Staffen shared two chapters on using the pendulum and Intuitive Creativity Charts to coach yourself and others. She offers tips for coaching oneself with a reading and includes two personal assessments worksheets that help you to clarify the issue you’re working on and hone in solutions.

Then there’s also an entire chapter on coaching others by discovering their talents and motivating them to take action. Staffen offers guidance about preparing for a session with clients, along with client assessment forms that can be used when working with them. I so deeply respect Staffen’s choice to so transparently share her Intuitive Creativity Charts method with others and teach them how they can use it to coach others. 

And it gets better – Staffen saved some of the best material for last, such as the chapter “Paint on Your Hands: Art Prompts” that are “fun exercises…to help beginners spark their own brave, intuitive creative within.”3 As a creative at heart that often needs a nudge to indulge, I loved the prompts to draw, create collages, play with finger paints, and more! It got me motivated to actually take out my art supplies and enjoy/explore myself.

In the final chapter, Staffen suggests starting a “creativity cluster” of “like-minded people who want to learn to dowse, journal, and play together!”4 Now I’m certainly wanting to do this, and I’m thinking about starting a Meet-Up group once I relocate next month. 

Overall, The Creative Pendulum has been such a breath of fresh air! I highly recommend this book for those seeking to expand their horizons. When read with curiosity and an open-mind, the possibilities of what you might discover about yourself through the process of dowsing with Staffen’s Intuitive Creativity Charts are endless.

From discovering your creative identity to figuring out what business steps you should take next, this book is useful on so many levels, which opens doors for readers to make their dreams a reality through the aid of their pendulum. It’s certainly a book one can come back to time and time again, whenever you are feeling called to use the guidance of the charts for both yourself and teaching others.

The Art of Aliveness, by Flora Bowley

The Art of Aliveness: A Creative Return to What Matters Most, by Flora Bowley
Hierophant Publishing, 1950253104, 224 pages, March 2021

How often do we really pause to think about what truly makes us feel alive? Have you ever thought there could be ways to feel more inspiration, creativity, and joie de vivre? Well that’s exactly what Flora Bowley offers in her book The Art of Aliveness: A Creative Return to What Matters Most. This spectacular process-oriented book is a guide to rediscovering one’s zest for life.

Flora Bowley is a woman of many talents: artist, healer, yoga instructor, and author (her previous books include Brave Intuitive Painting and Creative Revolution). These different pursuits lend to her creative lifestyle, which she has learned to navigate intuitively. According to her website, her aim is to create “a new holistic movement in the intuitive art world.”1 She purses this passion by leading in-person workshops and online painting courses, along with pursuing the other avenues her creativity inspires her to follow.

“Aliveness means reaching into the vast depths of our full human experience, not shying away from what we find there, and being brave enough to say, “I can be with what is, and I can choose again. I can create beauty out of sorrow and find meaning in the madness. I can be the alchemist of my own life no matter what cards I’ve been dealt.””2

I absolutely loved the book and had many “aha” moments reading it. First of all, Bowley is so honest about her journey. The ups and downs, she is willing to share her story with authenticity. This aspect made me greatly respect her, because it’s certainly not easy to lay it all out for others to know about. Her life is pretty epic though, and simply reading it brought me so much motivation to take new risks and follow my intuition more often.

Some of the really neat things Bowley has done in her life discussed in the book are volunteering in New Orleans after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, attending Burning Man and awakening to new parts of herself, and even changing her name legally to reflect this emerging identity. How badass are all these things? She reminded me that it’s okay to live outside the box and do things that I’m feeling called to do without having to justify them to other people or be worried about what they will think.

This honesty in Bowley’s writing created a connection with her that made me feel like I could trust her and she wasn’t trying to push anything on me. This whole book is an invitation to open up to the richness of life. She even writes about how in her journey of teaching intuitive painting, she realized the difference between sharing a creative philosophy and teaching a creative lifestyle. While her creative philosophy absolutely can be seen woven into all areas of her life, this book intended to help the reader develop their own creative lifestyle.

All the chapters in the book are a life lesson about living creatively. At the start of the chapter, Bowley includes anecdotes from her own life. Many of these describe how she came to the wisdom that she’s sharing. Then at the end of the chapters, there is a section called “Try This On” where Bowley offers a practice for the reader to do. Most were easy to incorporate into life, such as “The next time you feel a strong emotion, or if you’re feeling one now, notice if you are pushing it down or allowing it to run the show.”3 These practices helped me be more aware of my intuition, feelings, and creative process.

Furthermore, Bowley’s visual description of elements of painting became a symbolic imagery for me to envision when reading. The abstract concept of adding contrast to life came alive on canvas as she described popping yellow paint burst from a deeper blue. Never having painted much, this perspective opened new doors to perception for me, which made me actually want to try my hand at putting the brush to canvas. (Okay, maybe I’ll start with finger paints for now, but it’s still invigorating!)

“Contrasts brings together two or more strikingly different things, creating a dynamic relationship in juxtaposition or close association. In other words, contrast happens when two very different worlds collide, kiss, or simply exist side by side. I hunt for opportunities to create contrast because I know that tension between elements creates energy, a spark, nuance.”4

She also has so many suggestions from her workshops that I really thought were engaging in helping creators acknowledge feelings in a new way. For instance, one thing she’s done with participants is having them give away their half finished painting. Some were sentimental about it, others were happy to be relieved of it, but either way it is an exercise in letting go. From there, the painters were supposed to build on what the other had started. This made me start thinking more about my attachment to things and how I could also include more collaboration.

Reading Bowley’s story made me start thinking about my life as a big canvas, filled with colors and shapes, rather than my normal way of seeing it filled with people, activities, and commitments. Thinking about each of these elements in my life through an artistic perspective got me wondering what the current canvas of my life looked like and how I might bright out something new in what I was working with.

Overall, The Art of Aliveness is filled with wisdom and personal insight in which Bowley draws on her creative process to offer insight on how to reconnect with the inherent beauty in life. I feel like anyone looking to reawaken their creative spirit would benefit from reading this book. As already mentioned, simply hearing her personal story was an inspiration to follow my dreams. Her painting expertise is an added bonus that is sure to motivate other creators to make meaning of their life’s journey through artistry.