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|Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman, award-winning author, popular speaker and workshop leader whose joyful celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than 100 cities since 1972. She has published four books and currently writes for the Huffington Post, Beliefnet and UPI (United Press International) Religion and Spirituality Forum, and serves as ritual consultant for television and films. Mama Donna, as she is affectionately called, maintains a ceremonial center, spirit shop, ritual practice and consultancy in Exotic Brooklyn, NY where she offers intuitive tarot readings and spiritual counseling and works with individuals, groups, institutions, municipalities and corporations to create meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.
"In The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife, Donna Henes proposes the concept of the midlife Queen, focused on spiritual wisdom, mastery and self-esteem. Yes, it is time to be the Queen of Our Self, the High Priestess of Our Own Life, and claim the respect that we deserve while shouldering our own hard-earned authority, wisdom and inner beauty."
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It is my hope that as more and more women rise to reign in the fullest potential of our supremacy, we will harness our purpose, passion, and power and direct it toward creating a more balanced and peaceful world. This is the legacy of Her majesty.
Your Crowning Achievement!
As I am sure you noticed, the January issue of The Queen's Chronicles never went out, and the February issue is quite late.
I lost over a month to a really nasty flu. It started with a couple of weeks of debilitating exhaustion, which I understood to be my immune system trying to fend off an illness. Then, when it lost the battle, three weeks flattened in bed. And finally, when my symptoms all were cured, several more weeks of paralyzing exhaustion again until I recovered fully.
Now I am back on track and have dived into my regular way of working - but with more respect for my physical limits. I am an expert at summoning up energy and pushing through. And it usually works well for me.
Except when it doesn't!
It is not that I don't know what to do to stay healthy. I do. And I usually succeed. I can't remember the year when last I had a flu. But of course there is a huge difference in knowing what to do and actually doing it!
So I am now rededicating myself to following my own good advice and taking it easy sometimes!
Best blessings of loving Self-care,
On the first page of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins, his character calls in well to work. He maintains that he just feels too darn good to report for his job. That always struck me an excellent idea. Why waste a perfectly fabulous day in bed when you are feeling too poorly to enjoy it?
For years, I have maintained a Day in Bed ritual practice. There will simply come a day - never predicting which day - when I wake up knowing that today is my Day in Bed. I don't fight it. I gladly give in.
I get up long enough to make a cup of tea and bring it back to bed with me where I stay for the next 24 hours. Oh, I get up periodically to pee and drink and muster up something to eat, but after each brief foray, I return to bed.
I read. I nap. I write a letter or list or two. I daydream. I read. I nap.
Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.
- Maya Angelu
I luxuriate in doing nothing. I imagine myself to be Elizabeth Barrett Browning or Colette or some other fabulously romantic invalid writer propped up on pillows, her devoted dog or cat nestled in the covers at her feet. Or a privileged consumptive patient pampered in the sanitarium in Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain, eating six cream-rich meals a day and lying down after every one of them.
But of course, thank all goodness, I am not an invalid; I am not even sick. And I intend to stay that way. These short periods of respite and regeneration work remarkably well to keep me cool, centered and balanced. And best of all, I rarely get sick.
This is not to say that I never lose my cool, center and balance. This dis-ease usually happens when I feel compelled to stick to some horrendous schedule - natural or self-described - when I work until I collapse. Which is, I guess, why they call it a deadline.
In too many cases, my breakdown takes the form of a fall or other accident of some kind. I literally fall apart, fall down on the job, which is my body's undeniable way of reminding me to go to bed every once in awhile.
My head aches, my eyes burn, my arms and legs have given up, and my face in the mirror has a grayish cast. The bed, across the room, calls in its unmistakable lover's croon, Come to me, come, only I can make you truly happy, oh, how happy I'll make you, don't resist, remember how you moan with pleasure the instant we touch.....
- Lynn Sharon Schwartz
A few years ago I took a serious tumble and the consequent concussion brought home in no uncertain terms the importance of my Day in Bed. Had I been a bit more rested, I probably wouldn't have fallen in the first place.
The insidious sickness of the deadline syndrome is that you delude yourself into believing that if you don't do this thing, whatever it is, then no one can, or no one will, or you, yourself, won't do it later. The work becomes more important than you.
I am now determined to heal myself for once and for all. It is time. I cannot continue to push myself beyond the max. I acknowledge that I am not omnipotent. That I do need help. That I do have needs, and that I need to honor and enforce them. I promise myself to respect my limitations of strength, energy, time and resources.
And most important of all, I pledge to sit down occasionally, to lie down more often, to spend as many healing Days in Bed as I need, so that I don't have to fall down or fall ill to get some rest.
I had originally intended this piece to be longer, but my bed is beckoning to me. And I wisely choose to obey.
If I Had My Life to Live Over...I would
have gone to bed when I was sick instead
of pretending the earth would go into a
holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
(Written after she found out she was dying from cancer.)
Come, rest awhile, and let us idly stray
In glimmering valleys, cool and far away.
Come from the greedy mart, the troubled street,
And listen to the music, faint and sweet,
That echoes ever to a listening ear,
Unheard by those who will not pause to hear
The wayward chimes of memory's pensive bells,
Wind-blown o'er misty hills and curtained dells.
One step aside and dewy buds unclose
The sweetness of the violet and the rose;
Song and romance still linger in the green,
Emblossomed ways by you so seldom seen,
And near at hand, would you but see them, lie
All lovely things beloved in days gone by.
You have forgotten what it is to smile
In your too busy life come, rest awhile.
- Lucy Maud Montgomery
Spirit Between the Sheets
When I finally fall into bed exhausted after returning home from each year's Winter Solstice Celebration in the freezing cold, I am warmly welcomed by my favorite flannel sheets. I fold down my comforter and this blue and ivory bedding all but reaches out and gathers me to it's rose covered bosom, enclosing me in a soft, safe, nest-like embrace. This meeting of weary body and cozy bed linen is always my very personal culmination of the solstice ritual.
Four times a year, as part of the preparation for my annual solstice and equinox celebrations, I make my bed with fresh sheets. As the seasons change, so does my linen. I have four sets, each with a different pattern, each evocative of the particular season.
This simple domestic rite ensures that I am surrounded by the colors and designs that I associate with each segment of the year, even - especially - when I am in bed at my most relaxed and receptive. This quarterly action links me intimately, viscerally, subconsciously with the annual turn of the seasons and helps me to live in sync with the cycles.
Sheets play an amazingly major role in so many of my most deeply felt transformative memories.
I remember my father - whose best years were when he was a soldier, a man among manly men during World War II - teaching me how to make a military-standard hospital corner on the cot sheets that I would be taking with me to 5th grade science camp. It's true that you can bounce a dime off of a well-made bed.
I remember making my bed at college when I was 19 years old, knowing that later that night I was going to lose my virginity on those very sheets. I had it all planned. It was my 30th day on the Planned Parenthood pill. I had someone picked out for the deflower honor. This was to be IT. I felt so grown up as I passed the sheets through the air. I was making my bed and preparing to lie in it as an adult.
I remember some years later, a more mature me making the bed in anticipation of my Danish lover who was about to arrive for some weeks of bliss. This bed making was rich with intention, a delicious ceremony of lustful anticipation.
I remember when my Siamese cat pranced across my bed with paint on her paws and later that same night I conceived life while lying in love upon those sheets. I still have them - holy relics no less powerful than the shroud of Turin. The tiny gray footprints tiptoeing among the pale green ferns represent to me the miraculous spirit that entered my body that night.
I remember buying a set of what I thought at the time were exorbitantly expensive sheets in honor of a new relationship. Those sheets have been mightily used and much laundered. They have worn well over the decades, becoming, - as has our thirty-two year alliance - restfully warm and soothing.
I remember visiting my mother for her last Chanukah on Earth. She had been handed a deadly prognosis and knew that she hadn't long to live. The tradition in our family had always been to exchange a gift on each of the eight nights of the holiday. What does one give a terminally ill woman? Sheets! I went catalogue crazy and presented her with exquisite sheets, thick towels, comfortable nightgowns, and beautiful bed jackets.
I remember shopping on that same trip at one of Mother's favorite discount deal marchés. It was there that I found and bought my favorite sheets, a fabulous 1940's style floral motif in flannel. When I arrived home at 11PM on New Year's Eve after that devastating and poignant visit and 10 dulling hours of driving on snowy turnpikes, it was to a chilly, dark, empty, lonely house. I ripped those sheets from my suitcase, put them on the bed and jumped in with a bottle of champagne. Cosseted in a cocoon of soft comfort, I entered the New Year commiserating with my sad, soon-to-be-orphaned self.
I remember buying a set of cheerful flowery sheets for Shameike, my fairy-goddess-daughter, when she was just a little girl. The sheets are solely for her use when she stays here. And for her use only. The first thing we do when she arrives for a visit is put the sheets onto my guest room bed, turning it into her own room. When, on occasion over the years her room has been lent to someone else, she will make her bed on the sofa using her sheets to personalize the makeshift space.
I have recently splurged on a sensual set of creamy, extremely luxurious, million-count organic cotton sheets that I use when I am fasting and/or on retreat. The purest of the pure to keep me aligned with my intention, which is of course, purity of body, mind, heart and spirit.
My latest linen ceremony is to bless myself every night as I pull the sheets and blanket up over my body. I whisper to myself, "I cover myself with protection." "I cover myself with good health." " I cover myself with patience." "I cover myself with love."
Never one to think inside the box, I can not deign to being buried in one. When I imagine my final resting, I envision myself wrapped in sheets of the finest fabrics. Like a moth, I wish to lie in a cocoon of layered silk, held securely in Mother Nature's embrace, slowly transforming from an earthly slug into a spirited flight of fancy.
The Queen's Court is a gathering of sovereign women of a certain age - our dear peers - who graciously offer information, guidance, inspiration and encouragement to each other.
We Queens know what we know. And we know a great deal. Our experience has made us wise. So, feel free to consult with our cyber council/counsel when you are need of sage advice or wish to explore a particular topic of interest.
Who knows what can come out of these sister alliances we are building?
Busy, busy, busy Queens are we. As much as I adore my work, I sometimes find it frustrating. Often my to-do list is longer at the end of the day than it was when I started in the morning.
I was raised with a gross misconception. I was always told that if I worked hard enough, I would get it done. But that is so untrue. I have discovered that the more I do, the more I have to do.
Too much work. Too little time. What's a Queen to do?
If we are all so busy all of the time, what do we do to regenerate our Selves?
How do YOU make time for yourselves for centering and pleasure?
What are your practices to soothe, to pamper, to nurture, to center, to calm, to heal, to inspire, to excite your Self?
What do you do? How do you do it? When do you do it?
And most importantly, do you do it?!
Please send in your rituals and recommendations for loving Self-care to share. I will print all responses in the next Chronicles.
The Queen is firm in the Defense of Her time, Her space, Her boundaries, Her priorities, Her preferences, Her ethics, Her needs, Her desires, Her safety, and Her sense of well-being.
The Queen's Correspondence
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to The Queen's Chronicles.
Please keep your comments coming. And do feel free to make suggestions about content you would like to see. Or anything else, for that matter. It is a joy to connect with you.
Letters In Response to the December 2012 Issue
"Testosterone poisoning"!!! How priceless....oh so perfect. Thank you for that!
- June, NY
Love love love "The Story of Us."
- Elayne, PA
"The Story of Us!" We were. We are. We will continue to be! Blessings to all the Queens everywhere.
- Charlene, OR
I will keep this and reread it often. What a beautiful synopsis of our story! Thank you!
- Ellen, NY
- Jane, GA
This is right on point. I will be thinking of you and all our sisters and brothers of the soul today as we celebrate this consciousness shift on this the 21st day of December, 2012. "We are who we've been waiting for." Love you all,
- Linda, SC
This story you wrote is amazingly beautiful, inspiring and TO BE REMEMBERED. Thanks,
- Linda, MT
Deep thanks for sharing your wisdom with us! I've quoted your words on Facebook (with a link to your page), I hope that's ok. You've put into words so beautifully what I (and many of us feel) about our place in the world. Sending love and light,
- Karen, MI
Was that u?????????????? On mob wives????????????????????
I'm a looker and love these programs. I saw uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu for a second. True?
Please tell alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
- Linda, NY
Yep! That was me performing a spiritual cleansing on the home of Renee Graziano and blessing her to be The Queen of Herself! You can see the segment HERE.
"Grumpy old white men." Really??? How racist can you be??
- Alena, NY
Really! That IS the demographic of the patriarchy. However, we are ALL tainted with that testosterone-driven culture of aggression, repression, domination and destruction. Time for a change. Time for the re-emergence of the feminine principle in ALL people, women and men alike. Blessings for a NEW ERA.
I enjoy your website, your classes and I respect your knowledge,
however, may I express a point that is intended as constructive criticism: Why is it that you seem to have a dislike for Caucasian males?? [An example of this is in this current email.] Some of us white males also have feelings! I know in contemporary culture it's in vogue to openly express derision toward the Caucasian male, but I like to think that you're above that mindset. Let's keep in mind that not every bad thing in the world can be attributed to the white male! Further, not every white male alive today should be held responsible for what white males may have done in the past. I believe you're intelligent and fair minded enough to agree. Perhaps it is not your intention to insult white males, but, unfortunately, that's the way it appears. Anyway, there's no love lost, and I enjoy your work. All the best in this winter season.
- Sal, NY
Many thanks for your honest critique. I wrote "grumpy, old, white men" as this describes the demographic of the Patriarchy that has controlled the world for quite some time now. You are neither grumpy nor old! I want to make it clear that I do not dislike men, Caucasian or otherwise. I do loathe the patriarchal mindset that rules through domination, exploitation and intimidation that has put us all in danger. I also want to be clear that because that testosterone-driven power lust has infected many women as well. It is pervasive in our culture and it is putting us all - men, women, children, animals, plants and Mother Earth Herself at risk of annihilation. We all need to honor and nurture the Female Principle present in all people so that we might achieve a healing balance in the world. And just like the patriarchal mindset, the feminine sensibility does exist in us all. I point to that picture of the NYC policeman who bought a pair of boots for a homeless man and put them on his feet. He was acting from a perspective of loving care of the powerless, which is the opposite of patriarchal thinking, which favors only the most powerful. He is a white man. Make no mistake, the Dick Cheneys, Carl Roves and other cynical manipulators of the world are on their way out. And the "new men" are rising in defense of a softer, gentler, more loving reality. Clearly, you are one of them. Many blessings,
Letters In Response to the November 2012 Issue
I just watched your talk at the Glastonbury festival on YouTube and I was totally fascinated and inspired and convinced by your words. Thank you for all the good Goddess work you do.
- Gail, OH
Please let me start by saying that I am truly inspired by your talk that I just watched on YouTube from the Glastonbury Goddess Conference. Just ordered your book! We here at Blessings Within in Houston have been talking about the idea of a retreat focused around "the second talk." You know, the one that no one really has with you, like the big talk you had when you were young about the changes you would be experiencing. Smile! I believe you would be a wonderful keynote for this retreat. Would you be interested?
- Tina, TX
Absolutely! I am always interested in meeting and crowning new Queens. Have Crown, Will Travel!
Please send your responses to email@example.com
Your letters will be printed in the next Queen's Chronicles.
We extend hearty congratulations to our multi-talented circle of Sister Queens for their impressive accomplishments and successes.
Those who are blessed with the most talent don't necessarily outperform everyone else. It's the people with follow-through who excel.
DISBAND (Ilona Granet, NY, Donna Henes, NY, Diane Torr, Scotland, and Martha Wilson, NY); Karen Finley, NY; Judith Malina, NY; Linda Montano, NY; Lorraine O'Grady, NY; Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens, CA; Elizabeth Taylor, NY; Mierle Laderman Ukeles, NY; on their performances and/or performances of their work.
Eleanor Antin, CA; Nancy Azara, NY; Judith Bernstein, NY; Lauren Curtis, NJ; Joyce Cutler-Shaw, CA; Karen Fitzgerald, NY; Janet Goldner, NY; Susan Grabel, NY; Stephanie Brody Lederman, NY; Anna O'Sullivan, Ireland; Aviva Rahmani, ME; Patricia Smith, NY; Linda Stein, NY; Eobin Rewes, NY; Mierle Laderman Ukeles,NY; Linda Vallejo, CA; and Martha Wilson, NY; on the exhibitions of their artwork.
Eleanor Antin, CA, Conversations with Stalin (Book); Lois Banner, CA, The Passion and the Paradox (Book); Judyth Hill, Mexico, Dazzling Wobble (Book); Miriam Jacobs, CA, Polarity Wellness Tarot (Deck); Lexie Brockway, Potamkin, FL, What is Laughter: Messages from the Heart (Anthology) on their new publications.
Angela Omulepu and Paige Passano, CA on the birth of their twin daughters.
Betty Friedan (R.I.P.) on the 50th Anniversary of the publishing of The Feminine Mystique.
Please send your good news, achievements, accomplishments, successes and celebrations so that our international circle of sovereign sisters can send you blessings and accolades.
And we are glad to so. It is a joy and a privilege to share in the fortune of another woman. I recently heard Oprah say the saddest thing ever - "The hardest thing about being successful is having someone to be glad for you."
It takes a centered and confident Queen to break that pattern. There are 60 million thrones out there. One for each of us. There is plenty of purpose, passion and power for us all. May we use it well!
Please Offer Your Purest Thoughts, Your Heart-Felt Prayers, Your Great Good Feelings, And Your Very Best Blessings For Healing and Peace of Mind To:
Adrianne, NY; Alison, TN; Amora, FL; Amy, NY; Bebee, DE; Bettye, NY; Betty, AL; Chrissie, NY; Dana, CA; Dani, WI; Dee, NY; Deni, NY; Dolly, NY; Dominique, NM; Gail, WA; Glenys, Australia; Gloria, CA; Jacqueline, CA; Jo, AZ; Joan, NY; Judith, NY; Karen, NJ; Kathleen, PA; Kay, NY; Kaylin, MD; Kazuko, NY; Kim, NY; Kimi, NJ; Laura, NY; Linda, SC; Lorie, KY; Lydia, CO; Lisa, PA; Lucia, TX; Mari, VA; Marna, NY; Mary, MD; Michelle, NY; Nancy, NY; Naomi, DC; Pat, MA; Patsy, NY; Paula, NT; Pearl, NY; Roberta, NY; Ruth, NY; Sandi, NY; Sandy, CA; Sharon, NY; Shelley, NY; Shirley, IN; Sherli, CA; Sid, PA; Smriti, CA; Susan, MA; Susan, NC; Terri, FL; Urvashi, NY; and Yvette, NY; who are in the process of healing themselves from illness, accident, injury, or surgery.
Amy, NY; D. Barbara, NY; Beverly, NY; Carol, NY; Gaetana, NY; Glenys, Australia; Joanne, NY; Kimberly, NY; Kimi, NJ; Linda, NY; Linda, NY; Maureen, NY; Meryl, NY; Dee, NY; Patricia, Australia; Regi, CA; Sheryll, CA; Susan, NY; and Svetlana, NY; who would benefit greatly from some spiritual support.
Ali, VT; Annie, NY; Chrys, NY; Deni, NY; Erica, New Zealand; Gaetana, NY; Gail, NY; Hemetra, PA; Kat, NY; Kate, NY; Kathrine, Denmark; Lois, NY; Marla, NY; Nancy, NC; Roslyn, NJ; and Sharon, FL; the caregivers who are in weary need of care themselves.
May Their Spirits Rest in Peace:
Beatriz Noronha da Costa, NY
Gerda Lerner, WI
Adrienne Macaulay, NY
Thia McCann, TX
Gabrielle Roth, NY
Becky Tarbotton, CA
Diana Wolkstein, NY
With Heartfelt Condolences:
Amy Eberhardt, NY
Heidi McClure, NY
Please send your requests for physical and spiritual healing and positive energy so that the powerful women of The Queen's Court might send their prayers and blessings to you in your time of need.
The greatest gift I can give is to see, hear, understand and touch another person. When this is done, I feel contact has been made.
- Virginia Satir
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for Personal & Planetary Transformation
By Mama Donna, Urban Shaman
Information about seasons, cycles, & celebrations
The Queen Returns to Beliefnet
The Queen has returned to the pages of Beliefnet after an extended leave of absence.
Please join me three days a week for more informative and inspiring articles in support of the empowerment of midlife women. You will find me HERE. And speaking of online Queen communities, please join the Facebook Queens.