Category: Rites of Passage/Initiation

Blog: Aging Gracefully In A Youth Culture

Blog: Aging Gracefully In A Youth Culture

By Laura Chandler

In a recent article in The Atlantic titled, “Your Professional Decline is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think” (July 2019), the author, Arthur Brooks, looks for a silver lining as he explores the idea of his own unavoidable decline and the loss of relevance he will suffer in old age. His investigation takes him to different psychological principles, Darwin’s theory of evolution, happiness studies, and ultimately to an Indian guru, Acharya. His question to this master was this: “Many people of achievement suffer as they age, because they lose their abilities, gained over many years of hard work. Is this suffering inescapable, like a cosmic joke on the proud? Or is there a loophole somewhere⁠—a way around the suffering?”

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Blog: The Great Feminine: An Excerpt from Return to the Great Mother

Blog: The Great Feminine: An Excerpt from Return to the Great Mother

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

The concept of a Great Feminine principle is common to many cultural and religious traditions. The icon of the Great Feminine is viewed in these traditions as the generator and caretaker of life. The images of the Great Feminine vary from tradition to tradition, but the values and qualities of these images are surprisingly consistent. Whatever her form, she is always considered a protector and guardian of life.

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Article: Who is Tara?

Article: Who is Tara?

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

One of the oldest Stone Age artifacts that has been recovered is a small statue of a full-bodied woman carved from limestone. The statue was named the Woman of Willendorf, after the small village where it was found in southern Austria, and is estimated to be around thirty thousand years old. Many similar statues dating to the early Stone Age have been discovered throughout Europe and beyond. Expressions of the feminine have been found in the art, mythologies and spiritual practices of many ancient cultures, often represented in the form of female deities and goddesses.

Ancient images of Quan Yin, the goddess of mercy, have been found in China, Korea, Thailand and throughout southern Asia. Pachamama, the goddess of the Earth and time, has long been depicted in the traditions of the Andes Mountains of South America in stories and art. Long before Mary, the embodiment of the great feminine in Christianity, Middle Eastern and African cultures revered Isis, who presided over the other gods, life, and death. Images of Kunapipi and Eingana, the mother goddesses of the Australian aboriginal cultures, have been found in rock art dating back at least ten thousand years.

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Blog: Encountering the Great Mother in the Birth Environment

Blog: Encountering the Great Mother in the Birth Environment

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

To understand the essence of the Great Mother, it is helpful to look to the earth. From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we are held in the earth’s embrace, and it has many valuable lessons to offer us about motherhood. The earth is abundant, nurturing, unyielding, and adapting. The Great Mother is the embodiment of these qualities, offering us tremendous teachings about the mutuality of experience in the natural world.

You can find the power of the Great Mother expressed in the many mother goddesses appearing in different cultures around the world — Pachamama in the Andes, Tara in the Himalayas, Quan Yin in China, Isis in ancient Egypt, and Hera, Thera and Athena in Greece and Rome. There is a widespread understanding among different cultures about the importance and necessity of being in alignment with the power of the Great Mother, not only to bring forth life but also to nurture life in a way that is beneficial for everyone.

Despite a lack of understanding about mothering and matriarchal priorities in the west, the power of the Great Mother is accessible to women in the modern time. By connecting with this power, women can sustain themselves no matter what is happening in their birth process. Women can use their connection with this power to receive guidance and to understand the deeper meaning of their experience.

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Blog: Ask Isa: Unexpected Pregnancy

Blog: Ask Isa: Unexpected Pregnancy

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Question: I’m pregnant and I’m having a hard time connecting to my child. I wasn’t planning on getting pregnant and I’m not sure how I feel about it. What can I do to feel more connected to my child?

Isa: First of all, there isn’t anything wrong with you if you don’t feel connected to your child right away. This is a huge moment in your life, and you need to give yourself all the time and space you need for this pregnancy to fully register for you.

If you can’t connect with your child immediately, it’s likely because you need to take time to explore the ways you’re going to change as you become a mother. In order to connect with your child, you first have to connect with yourself. If you don’t put your own emotional and physical needs first, it will be more difficult to connect. Focusing on yourself in this way is not selfish, but will actually be beneficial for your child.

When preparing for motherhood, it is essential to reflect on what being a mother means to you and to consider how having a child is going to affect your everyday life. I recommend looking at your own definition of “mother” and examining the way you were mothered. If you have been well-mothered, reflect on what values you might emulate as a mother for your child. If you were not mothered well, there may be places within you that need healing.

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Blog: Repatterning Life Transitions and Initiations

Blog: Repatterning Life Transitions and Initiations

By Isa Gucciardi PhD

Within each of our lives, we have important moments of transition, which we experience in our bodies, that can be understood as initiations into a new way of being. Birth, death, puberty, the sexual encounter, becoming a parent, and for women menstruation, menopause, and giving birth, are all potent initiations we experience in our lifetimes. Each of these initiations holds powerful information and the possibility of transforming long held patterns that no longer serve us.

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Blog: Safeguarding Birth, Invoking the Sacred

Blog: Safeguarding Birth, Invoking the Sacred

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

From the moment we are born until the moment we die, women are constantly engaged in the processes of creation, creativity, and change. For much of our lives, through our monthly cycles, our bodies create forms to prepare to receive new life, and if that new life is not received, a process of destruction of those forms takes place.

When we give birth, in the process of becoming a mother, our old sense of self as an independent being falls away, and, in defining ourselves, we include the needs of another in a very real and intimate way. As a woman goes into labor, however, the new definition of self as a mother who includes the identity of her child as part of her own self-identity has not quite gelled, and the old definition of self as a single, unitary being is challenged. As this challenge occurs, the power that was binding together the old form – the independent woman – is released. This power is then available to create the new form – the mother.

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Special Announcement: Upcoming Courses for Parents at Sacred Stream

Special Announcement: Upcoming Courses for Parents at Sacred Stream

Sacred Stream is committed to supporting parents in bringing greater consciousness into their relationships with their children, their partners, and themselves. All of our Empowered Living courses are designed to help you get the most from your everyday experience.  Several upcoming courses are especially helpful for parents.

Conscious Parenting will help you connect more deeply with your intentions and values as a parent and respond to whatever arises with greater self-understanding and grace. Tracking Spirit in the Birth Environment provides an opportunity to connect to powerful resources for giving birth or integrate the birth experience you already had. The Path of Service strongly connects you with your own needs and how to address them so that you can maintain your energy level while caring for others. And if you find, as you parent your children, that how you were parented is coming up as something you would like to understand better, Relationship and Karma will help you do that.

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Blog: Managing Initiation

Blog: Managing Initiation

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In traditional cultures, the way a culture meets and manages the initiatory processes of its individual members is one of its defining qualities. The management of these initiations is generally accomplished by helping the initiate move through a ritual of some kind. Initiatory rituals can be very elaborate and well defined. In fact, anthropologists generally learn about a culture through the study of initiation rituals.

Rituals and culturally defined structures are good management tools to direct and hold the power of the initiatory process. However, a significant drawback to many rituals and cultural structures is that they have been designed to direct the power that is released in the initiatory process into the society’s structures, rather than dedicating it to the initiate.

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Podcast: Episode 30: Working with Teens

Podcast: Episode 30: Working with Teens

Depth Hypnosis Practitioners approach working with clients who are teens with respect for the initiatory process the teen is going through. In today’s episode, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. talks about working with teens in this way.

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Article: Reflections on Loss at the Winter Solstice

Article: Reflections on Loss at the Winter Solstice

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

We are gathered here this evening of the winter solstice. This is the longest night of the year, and it is honored by many traditions as a sacred and rich time. In Latin, solstice means sun set still and winter solstice is the great stillness before the sun’s strength builds, and days grow longer. It is a time when everything lies dormant in the silent night. At this time of year, the earth reaches into the darkness of the winter night and our experience is driven by that darkness. The days are shorter and shorter as the nights invite us to focus more deeply inward, to reach more and more fully into the deepest recesses of our psyche.

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Article: Depth Hypnosis: Where Fierce Compassion and the Path of the Wounded Healer Converge

Article: Depth Hypnosis: Where Fierce Compassion and the Path of the Wounded Healer Converge

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Dr. Robert Thurman, noted Buddhist scholar, has stated that the future of Buddhism in the West lies in meditational therapies. One such meditational therapy is Depth Hypnosis. Depth Hypnosis is a therapeutic model that incorporates the wisdom of two very ancient healing and spiritual modalities (Buddhism and shamanism) with two more modern approaches (hypnotherapy and transpersonal psychology) to address emotional and spiritual imbalance.

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Article: The Path of Service and Initiation

Article: The Path of Service and Initiation

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Thank you for inviting me here this evening to speak to you. I have known about your group for many years now, and I have always appreciated the efforts you have made to change the way women and families experience birth in the Bay Area.

I think it might be easy for us in the Bay Area to take the kind of resources and alternatives to birth that each of you provides for granted. But all we need to do is to listen to the news to understand how women’s reproductive rights are under siege both in this country and abroad.

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Podcast: Episode 19: Understanding 2012

Podcast: Episode 19: Understanding 2012

In today’s episode, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. discusses the 2012 era in terms of the evolution of human consciousness.

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Podcast: Episode 11: Moon Lodge: The Initiatory Nature of Women’s Biology

Podcast: Episode 11: Moon Lodge: The Initiatory Nature of Women’s Biology

The expression moon lodge refers to the emotional and mental space as well as the physical space that women would retire to in many indigenous cultures at the time of their moon, when they were on their period. Often in many cultures that same place was a birthing place as well. It was a place of women’s mysteries and women’s initiations. In this excerpt from a 2010 Moon Lodge workshop, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. discusses the initiatory nature of women’s biology.

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