you & me

Receiving Isn’t Effortless, It Can Rip You to Shreds.


Mama Ocean was fierce that day.

I had driven down to Tybee Island off the Savannah coast, and hurricane winds to the south kicked up some churning waves and a salty roar against my ears. I waded into the water for a little spiritual baptism because I could feel a rebirth taking place inside me, and I wanted to receive the Divine Mother’s blessing.

Opening my arms, I let wave after relentless wave pound my body. Gasps of delight came out of me as the warm water took my breath away, then little screams as the sand shifted beneath my feet and the water’s swirling tentacles tried to drag me sideways.

I fell down and got back up before the next wave could engulf me. The riptides weren’t making it easy. And I realized, Mama Ocean could drown me if I wasn’t careful. Her voice was not gentle or nurturing then, but a challenge: “Rebirth, eh?” she was saying. “If you want to receive my blessing, take this, and this, and this, and this. Then maybe you’ll prove to me you’re ready for new life.”

Well, I needed that challenge, because you know what? I’m tired of hearing about the Divine Feminine as an energy of effortless receiving. It’s misleading and doesn’t feel true for me.

When you receive something without any effort involved, that is divine grace. But opening to receive something that is powerful, possibly divinely ordained, and too big to control, takes muscles — the muscles of the heart. The muscles of surrender.

Getting to a place of ease, presence and surrender is part of the process of receiving, and the process can be absolutely terrifying. You have to flow past all the fight/flight/freeze instincts that come up, and simply stay. Stand there. Naked. In the light.

You have to relax. Relax into trust that you can roll with whatever you are allowing in. And that is not at all passive, easy or effortless, it requires courageous, sexy, kick-ass effort.

Have you ever felt how hard it is to receive a compliment? To receive the loving gaze of a partner looking at you with pure adoration? To receive any sort of kindness or generosity from someone even though a part of you feels so unworthy of it?

To really take in any of these things, it takes effort. It takes action.

Imagine being on the beach with waves coming at you, only those waves represent anything that feels like it could possibly lead to joy. It feels intense. You feel the pressure of it wanting to be let in, to enter you, absorb into you, slip in through your cracks.  And then, possibly, you feel your own answering resistance.

Because letting it in would require expanding on some level. Dilating. Changing the shape of what defines you by dropping the armor of what protects you.

But why would we ever resist feeling joy?

Maybe because receiving something that is truly nourishing for us — something that would meet a need we have deep inside, a need that has been neglected and starved for a long, long time — can require an entire overthrow of all the structures we put in place to survive the emptiness of not having this need met for ages.

So yeah, taking in and digesting something new to our system is hard. Ironic as it sounds, receiving new types of nourishment can be painful and awful in a lip-curling, nose-scrunching way. No matter how good something may be for you, if you’ve never seen it before, you don’t really trust it.

Receiving can be damn hard.

Receiving means you get wet. You get messy. You get sand on your bottom, sunburn on your cheeks, windburn on your face from letting the ocean winds whip you for hours. Just being there and taking it all in can be rough, you have to withstand it. Maybe build a tolerance to it. Your leg muscles ache from fighting to stay upright. Your eyes squint against the salty spray.

Yet you vow to be present, to meet the water, to soak it all up.

Receiving means you are permeable. You feel empathy. You let someone else’s emotions penetrate you and you let yourself be moved and rocked by them. It’s okay to drop your edges and boundaries. It’s called living. Involvement. Responding whole-heartedly. Being affected by the world around you in an authentic and lively way.

Receiving can also mean just sitting there too, closing your eyes, listening and feeling what you are receiving press against you and stir all around you. You have to respect something in order to receive it. You have to recognize how big and wonderful it is. You have to see it and sit with it and not turn away.

The more reverence you give to it, the more of it you’re able to swallow and receive fully in every inch of your body.

Receiving means you have to wrestle with hurt or confused feelings. Forgive someone. Embrace someone. Before letting yourself receive what someone is trying to give you, you may have to stop pushing that person away. You may have to take that person’s heart under your wing as you would a friend, a brother, or a child, and say, “You are part of my pack now. Be welcome.”

Receiving means you have to go on a journey. It takes strength and courage to let yourself open — open to change, open to trust. Expanding beyond your limits and tearing at the seams of what is comfortable can rip you to shreds. And then it can sew you back together into a new shape that is more fitting for who you are now.

Receiving means you are a warrior. A lovemaker, earth-shaker, and wind-listener. The Divine sends you messages, and though the tasks asked of you may seem impossible or unendurable, still you receive the call.

Though you may fear being seen as crazy or foolish, though you may have to un-bind yourself from previously held beliefs and self-protective rules or vows, you receive the counsel (the dream, the intuitive knowing, the signs) and commit to believing in yourself. And then you receive the seed that gets planted in you for just the inspired action to take at just the right time.

Personally, I don’t know any women fully centered in their Divine Feminine power who actually want to receive something effortlessly. We love to dive deep and emerge with the buried treasure still dripping with seaweed, not have it handed to us in a finely wrapped box.

We want to feel our creativity flowing with ease and the tingling of magic, but we also understand that it’s a process, we may have to chip away at it, and we give ourselves permission to struggle with it lovingly.

We want our stillness to hum and vibrate with mystery. We want to dance with the forces at play around us, sensing into the whispers and nudges that tell us: This way.

We want to receive our deepest desires by going through a full-fledged death and rebirth process that transforms our very souls… because, honestly, it’s just more fun that way.


Katie Hart is devoted to awakening Goddess energy in all her many forms as Goddess Earth makes her shift and rebirth into greater love at this time. She is called to priestess for the Cailleach Beara, Brigid, Artemis, Mariam, Yeshua, and others. Home is the Pangean mountains of western North Carolina, where she works for a nonprofit building community and addressing the local affordable housing crisis. You could contact Katie via email.


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