My Heart bag comes everywhere with me. It is small enough to fit into the bottom of my big leather satchel that carries everything a mother and her children might possibly need, like maybe a cereal bar to satisfy hunger pangs, or a bottle of water to quench thirst, or maybe a hankie to dry tears and a sniffly nose, and, of course, a notebook or 2 for when inspiration strikes….pretty much everything but the kitchen sink!!!

The bag itself was created after the contents had accumulated and needed a permanent home, somewhere where it would be possible to simply lay my hands upon them without having to rummage and root around a seemingly endless pit of nothingness. My heart bag is, in fact, almost the direct opposite to my everyday bag — while the latter is heavily embedded in everyday needs and routines, the former is my portal to the sacred and divine that lies just beneath, and even perhaps within, the quotidian mysteries. Allow me to spill the heart and essence of my bag out onto the table here in front of us, and let me tell you about each element and what they mean to me. Taken together they sing the song of my soul, each one quivering to the vibrations of a different note.

–The bag itself is made of hand dyed silk velvet, soft to the touch, and heavily embroidered with the symbols of a myriad goddesses, eg. Snakes, spirals, water symbols, lozenges. A silken hand woven rope runs through the top of the bag and pulls it closed to keep the elements safe and secure.

–A rose wreath, the prayer beads of the Virgin Goddess, created from 165 dried and rolled rose petals. The rose is a symbol of the pure heart and was sacred to the Goddess.

–A tiny bottle of the essential oil of rose. The smell of roses eases fear and anxiety.

–A tiny golden bee, to symbolize the Priestesses of the Goddess Artemis who were called Melissai, the Greek word for bee.

–The Labrys, the double axe which is associated with the Goddess and a symbol of sacred spaces where women gathered in peaceful rituals.

–Mermaid, a Goddess of the Sea.

–Priestess figurine with upraised arms and a snake in each hand.

–Figurine of the Black Madonna, in whom I recognize the face of the Divine Feminine, and to whom I pray as I finger my prayer beads, ‘Hail Mary, full of grace, The Goddess is with you.’’

–A silk chiffon scarf hand painted in healing colours, and rolled up so small it is hard to imagine that it would encircle anything but a fairies neck.

–The letter E, my initial worked in Celtic calligraphy, because the time has come to claim my name and what it means and who it signifies that I am. ‘I am here. I am whole. I am Edith.’

–A small piece of Indian handmade paper with an invocation inscribed on it: ‘I call on the Great Mother, all the angels and saints and my spiritual guides, each of whom manifest the Sacred Feminine, to come and be with me, and offer me their gifts of strength, guidance and courage.’

And so now you can see that my Heart Bag is also my Spirit Pouch. It holds together the elements of my soul, symbols of my inner life.

Note: Much of the above emerged after working on a series of exercises devised by Mary Ann Moore called ‘Mapping Your Spiritual Journey’ (Flying Mermaids Studio).