Let the Stars Kiss You

slip out
of your skin,

let the stars
kiss you…

run through the forest;
a wild, hot mess
of burning aliveness…

lay down on the altar
of the mystery;
yield to
the great unfolding…

you are

the flower girl,
scattering the
fresh
plucked
blossoms;

their omnipotent fragrance
permeating the marrow
of your lovely bones...

you are

the bride,
taking a vow
to your self;

to listen
to the great cosmic whisper
that lands
in the sanctuary
of your heart;

shifting shape
and form,
through its own
being and becoming…

you are

the groom inside yourself,
the banks of the
river shakti,

the strong roots
that welcome the sway
of your untamed branches…

you are

the children
in myriad form
spilling forth
from this union;

their only purpose
to sing life’s song…

you are

the chapel
of the body
in which the miracle
is manifest...

sacred thread words & image © Heather Rhodes
at studiopetronella.com
model: jane

 

A Thousand Suns

deep inside
the rich folds of darkness;

you sit quietly
in the center, 

your light of a thousand suns
radiates from the magnificent
bindu of your heart…

nothing

no one

can resist you…

here you are, 
inside, 
right where you have always been;

and now,
a thousand flaming birds
fly in and out
of the window of my heart

sacred thread words & image © Heather Rhodes at Studio Petronella
durga sadhana
model: ofelia

Wave of Love

wave of love © heather rhodes studio petronella all rights reserved

lean in…

kiss the ground
of your own wilderness…

offer your forests,
as sanctuary
to passing birds in flight,

marry the medicine
of their nesting
in your strong branches…

and when the night comes;

sleep in the deserts of your body,
caressed by the sweeping sands
of four-billion-year-old stardust,

open your soft mouth skyward,
catching the rain of wisdom
that falls like liquid diamonds upon your tongue...

parched prayers
drenched
in the honey of communion...

your pale bones resting softly
against the skin of the earth,

eyes awake,
bathed in the honest moonlight…

listen...

to the song that rises from the deep;
reaching upward,
through the crust of your inner soil;

invoking,
evoking,
a sonorous remembering;

a rewilding
of your holy fire…

whisper or roar;

now is the time,

nothing is missing...

unleash your
mighty
wave
of love...
 

sacred thread words & image © Heather Rhodes
model: elena

The Invitation

 


this is the invitation.

it didn’t come in the package
we imagined,

it isn’t tied up
with a pretty bow
or jazzy pantsuit…

the masks are off,
our eyes are open,

we see
exactly
what is before us.

after the disbelief,
the gasps
and guttural howls,

there is nothing left to do
except open to the invitation;

to dig down,
beneath the din of distraction,

to stand together, 
with roots that go
deeper than fear;

into the very matrix,
the mighty heart of love,

hip to hip
heart to heart,

yes, we were
made for these times,

and we are held by something
so much greater than this single moment

sacred thread words & image © Heather Rhodes
model: emily

Communion with Parvati

 

ohhhhhhh...

so deep,
so soon...

down
down
and
in,

sliding to the bottom
in this warm jar
of honey
that is her
teaching ground...

I am bathed
in my sankalpa,
in undulating waves...

"stay soft"

"remain a traveler in the landscape of wonder"

"forget everything you think you know"

"open the eyes of your heart; you are ready to see"

yes.

yes.

yes.

yes.

I am ready, show me.

I am in the field so deep with you, sisters;
sometimes I cannot see you,
but I can hear you breathing...

I bow, humbly at the feet of the mystery of the great union…

words & image © Heather Rhodes at Studio Petronella
day three parvati sadhana
model: jane

Entering the Field

 


I am here,
quietly
slipping in; 
by the glow
of candlelight…

her parfum is heavy,
the air is thick with
her…

every cell of my body
is vibrating with
her potent invitation…

she whispers
in my ear,
"shhhhhhhhhhhhh..."

her soft breath,
warm on my neck,

"I am here
inside you…"

forehead to the floor, sisters, so grateful to be here…
jai parvati shakti ma

words & image © Heather Rhodes at Studio Petronella
day one parvati sadhana
altar by candlelight as I enter parvati sadhana

 

Gazing Inland

water gaze for paddling writing © heather rhodes studio petronella all rights reserved

last evening as I drove over the thames river at dusk, gazing inland, all of the present day expressions of un-sacred geometry evaporated; all the familiar landmarks disappeared... including the mammoth steel structure beneath me...

I know this feeling; it has happened to me since I was a child, every time I cross over this liquid jewel of a river and cast my eyes up-river…

in these milliseconds, I float…suspended in time and space…

I hear drums. I feel a peace, and fullness; room to fully exhale. I see the natives of this fertile land and water gracefully carve through the river in their canoes, their backs to the salty expanse of the long island sound…

the natural curves of the earthen riverbanks meet the water with a preternatural embrace; like a deep, resounding hum… the water welcomes each dip of their paddles, like a holy invitation… there is an unspoken reverence that permeates all…

I drink in this experiential offering, it feels like stepping inside an ancient prayer… there is a sacred silence that has a sound that fills my whole being; the sound of...

Balance. 

I no longer hear the earth weeping.

tears… (my own)

and then I am present here again, remembering myself canoeing on a different river with my then-young son, singing these words that swept our hearts through this very same portal...

my paddle clear and bright,
flashing with silver

follow the pale moonlight,
dip, dip and swing…

dip, dip and swing…

may we each rise up in our own way, 
raising our voice for her;

that she may once again have no reason to weep…

honoring the protectors
rock solid. standing with standing rock.
9 10 2016  Heather Rhodes
paddling song: margaret embers mcgee 1918
image: water gazing © heather rhodes at studio petronella
model: jane

Circle of Breath

beloved
circle of breath;

discovering me
at the intersection
of arriving and departing;

like the silent milliseconds
that live in between the snap-snap-snap
of the playing cards, 
clothespinned to
the spokes of my bicycle wheels…

hot summer day,
hair blowing in the breeze…

snap-snap-snap

no thought
no mantra

snap-snap-snap

falling into
the soft nest of my body;

even when the
somatic housekeeper
has been waylaid,

even in the middle
of a flaming mess;

(maybe more so,
because of it)

you are always my home;

in you I find
the fullness of the cosmos,

the diminutive ray of light
that trespasses the landscape
of my darkened eye;

coaxing me;

to fully inhabit
this
very
moment


sacred thread words & image © Heather Rhodes  at  Studio Petronella
model: emily
studiopetronella.com



Homage to the House on the Hill

perkins farm © heather rhodes studio petronella all rights reserved

For many years now, I have driven past the uninhabited Perkins farmhouse just up the street from my own house... My heart aches each time I pass, as I witness the lonely, once-magnificent structure slowly crumbling into the arms of the earth. This image is my way of honoring its place in time, giving it wings of comfort and wings to fly, and a prayer of appreciation: "alis volat propriis" (with her own wings she flies)... Her beauty endures, even in her decay; her blessed disintegrating structure still witnessing the splendid sunsets and the rising moon on the top of the hill...
 

[homage to the house on the hill]

houses are the
beautiful bones

that shelter
our burning hearts,
our stealthy fears,
our wildest dreams
and deepest longings...

houses
bear silent witness
to the tapestry
of generations;

woven within,
and grown outward…

families
and friends;

birthing, living, dying;
union and separation,

beginnings, endings; 
wavering and resolute,

conflict, connection,
celebration and grief;

houses as holy cocoons;
that take no sides;

our loyal secret keepers;

offering refuge,
a springboard,
an eternal retreat
when we feel broken…

and some days
the houses glow
with a fire of love so bright,
that we become blind
to our differences,

and our laughter
could shake
the whole world awake…

words & image © Heather Rhodes
homage to the perkins farmhouse
model: rozlynne

Inviting Peace

 

[ an invitation to the inner peacemaker ]

I invite you
to wander through my peaks and valleys…

I beg you;
let loose your all-seeing eyes
upon the terrain of my soul…

seek out
the hidden places
that silently entertain war
inside me;

the fortified bunkers,
abandoned battlegrounds,
unconscious boundaries;

bloody bandages,
festering wounds
that pass from man to boy-child,
mother to daughter,

the long, aching ribbon,
the wail of mother's grief...

these holy, secret places
that yearn for the touch
of a warm hand,
a kind heart...

let us take them all out
into this day that sits before us
in its bodacious aliveness,

let us lay them upon the long wooden table
of compassion,
and make a feast of our honesty;

revealing the pulse of indigenous connection;
self as other, other as self;

that we might come to hold
these outcast pieces in our embrace,
like seashells collected from a softer time;
in the wisdom-light of our heart's gaze...

perhaps they will writhe and twist and turn,
perhaps they will fall to the floor in utter relief;
released, at last, from their burden of hiding

perhaps, inevitably, 
they will kiss us on our tender mouths
with ecstatic gratitude
for our willingness to
open
our
eyes...

sitting in the quiet wonder of transmutation,
golden honey dripping from the spaces from which they came...

we are all here together, and my love for you is relentless

may we know peace
shanti
shanti
shanti
om

sacred thread words & image © Heather Rhodes  at  Studio Petronella
model: emily
studiopetronella.com

She Walks Between Worlds

water dreams 1 © heather rhodes studio petronella all right reserved
 

she knocks upon her own door,
she invites her self in

she walks between worlds;
fluent in countless tongues

she thrives in dreamtime,
spinning the golden threads
of her waking life
outward

the soft forest floor
receives each of her honest
and tender footsteps
like a prayer…

all manner of flora and fauna
are her kin;

in the evenings,
the verdurous mountains
entertain her;

effulgent starlight dances exotic,
falling to rest
on the pungent canopy
below

generous gibbous clouds
pour sacred teas
from their humid pots
to honor this holy soirée

comets stream through the theatre of
the night time sky,
weaving whispered secrets
through the luminous strands of her hair…

howls and growls of the wild things
lay low in the wood,
maintaining the equilibrium;

she can hear
the melodius hum
of the creatures burrowing
deep in the ground below her...

she extracts the effervescent beauty
from the cycles of living and dying,
and the erotic tension
that dwells between

she is comfortably poised
between heaven and earth;

her roots betrothed to the
moist, dark underbelly
of the sublunary world,

her branches wed
to the unruly, beloved circus
of life’s wild unfolding,

her crown,
dazzling the heavens;
a gushing fountain of cosmic elixir,
enlivened by the sovereignty of
her own inner queendom…

she is learning the art
of acquiescence; 
to the fluctuating flow of souls
in and out of
the story of her life

under the kind moon's gaze,
she releases her sorrow and regrets; 
like paper boats, they float
into the quiet river of surrender;

and the waters
run
gold...

she’s no longer apologizing for
her thirst for solitude,
her preference for fellowship
with the unseen world

she knows
her devotion to
the mere activity of her creativity
is beneficial to the whole;
no matter that a single
human eye ever gazes upon it,
or one tender ear ever hears…

she wears the jewel of her longing
like a flaming firebrand
in the chamber of her heart,

she listens to
that which has no sound...

she remembers
when birds were set free
as winged prayers;
to remind us of
our native divinity…

words & image © Heather Rhodes  at  Studio Petronella
model: emily
studiopetronella.com

Heaven & Earth : the dialogues

 

[ reflections under the gaze of eris ]

it was sometime after she learned
the fine art of coming fully into her body,
that she was able to behold the constellations
in their full magnificence…

so thrilled was she by this breathtaking spectacle,
she stayed awake for seven days and seven nights
under the radiant sky;
until sleep finally claimed her… 

upon waking
from her dream-replete slumber,
she was privy to clandestine conversations;
whispered murmurings, spoken cosmic love letters;
between heaven
and earth…

heretofore comfortable trappings and accouterment
fell as pale dust to the ground...

she remembered...
the celestial matrix scattering the seeds of stardust,
like sparkling, silver dandelion pods;
to grow wild in the earthy gardens below…

swaying with the sublime orchestral movement
of the translucent corridors of spanda;

she softly spoke the questions that still lay deep in her heart to the stars in the midnight sky,

she sang them into the cracks in the red clay earth that lay beneath her feet...

and she welcomed the responses that came,
that wove themselves like sunlight in a mare’s windswept mane,
deep into her bones that loved the earth so exceedingly;

inhaling and exhaling
the alchemical gold
of communion...

words & image © Heather Rhodes  at  Studio Petronella
model: ofelia
studiopetronella.com

 

Winter's Crown

winters crown © 2016 heather rhodes studio petronella all rights reserved

winter’s crown...

icy
candelabra;

glistening beacon,
sending signals
into the
cimmerian tundra;

radiant buoys
on the ocean
of the void…

although
she is quiet,
she is
not forgotten;

please
do
not
disturb
the deep
disturbances…

for herein lay
all manner of
earthly delights;

immure

nestled,  
under flesh
under bone
under ground,

listening to
the fading
winter whispers,

laying in wait
for the
grand emergence.

winter’s crown;

bright,
as are deep
her roots
in darkness.... 

sacred thread words & image © Heather Rhodes at  Studio Petronella
model: jane

The Beauty of the Soul is Eternal

Honoring the life of Maddie Vail…

What a gift, to have been able to get to know Maddie in the process of creating beauty through my photographic work over the years. We formed a special connection during the time we spent together shooting and en route to outdoor locations throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island...   Hauling our heavy satchels, laden with dresses, jewels, styling accoutrements and photographic equipment through streams, rocks, swimming pools, ocean edges and deep forest paths...seeking out just the right spot...  

Maddie was an exceptional beauty; inside and out.  She was a deep river of a young woman… wise beyond her years; intelligent, witty, funny, opinionated, intuitive, creative, fair-minded, compassionate, fiercely loyal…and she wore her deep and abiding love for her family on her sleeve... 

My life is truly so much richer for having known her…  Simple-yet-heartwarming memories/vignettes have been trickling through for days...

• When we got lunch at The Market, her favorite was always the spicy noodles (and orangina)…

• We had to make sure we brought lots of warm layering on shoots because she got cold so easily, even at the beach in the middle of summer…and yet, to her credit, she donned a burgundy sleeveless silk gown (for Conscious Clothing) in freshly fallen snow in February and we shot between bouts of teeth chattering, warm furs, and laughter...  Maddie knew how to show up…

• To my initial dismay and then chuckles, she gave the finger to a crowd of onlookers, who were taking in her brilliant beauty, while we shot on the windy ocean cliffs at the Beavertail Light… (she didn't like too much attention)

• Heartfelt conversations during our travels about what matters most in life and coping with struggle...

• More laughter as we rushed to patch together the beadwork on an antique dress, with duct tape and hidden safety pins to secure just the right fit, before the sun disappeared into the horizon… 

What an ocean of memories for those of us who have been touched by her presence...

I encouraged Maddie to be herself when we worked together, conscious not to cramp the glorious scene of her, keen to capture all the myriad nuances, the essence of her…which yielded a treasure trove of raw, authentic, deep beauty.

My heart aches with loss. I hold her dear family so close in this time of deep sorrow, and I celebrate her life.  I celebrate all of her.

Maddie, thank you for the rich experience of you.  I always saw you and loved you. 

Perhaps I will always be waiting for the latch to click open on the driveway gate, see you walking towards the door, and hear your voice, "Hey Heather, how's it going?" But for now, it is I that will carry your heart.


The Beauty of the Soul is Eternal  (for Maddie)

winding
your way
down the
aisle of life;

at once
a girl-child
and woman;

a radiant potion
of thunder
and silk,

quenched
and
ravenous…

leaving an
indelible trace
in our hearts…

your beauty
potent,
yet not
fully in bloom...

and now you
blossom
in the heavens,

and show
us your
brilliant face
once more;

as
the fragrant rose
in summer,

the laughter
of children
playing,

a burning orange
and lavender
sunset,

the whir of
the hummingbird’s
wings

the kindness
of a stranger,

the salty spray of
the surf
at Napatree…

I have only
to look and listen,

and I will
find you…

sacred thread words & image © Heather Rhodes at  Studio Petronella
model: maddie

 

The Time of Mending

self portrait time of the mending ? heather rhodes studio petronella all rights reserved.jpg
 

she fell
from the stars
without a sound,

into a cradle of pungent moss
in the belly of the forest...

the great horned owl
witnessed,

the lucent moon gazed
upon this new and tender child
with quiet wonder
and
hope...

she fed on the
symphony of
primordial sights
and sounds
around her,

she spoke in a feathered language,
layered with a revelatory vision
that kept Hildegard
awake at night...

her faithful, pale-eyed dove
sat sentinel
through the ripening
of her wild and starlit heart... 

her purpose clear,
tethered by
the silver strands of
her grandmother’s hair,
infused with
indigenous stories
and secrets
and healing;
 
carried by the winds;

and woven
into the warbler’s nest
that shimmered like silk-spun platinum
in the morning sun...

and through it all
she paused
frequently,
attuning herself
to the song
that travels
between the worlds....

seraph
brilliant oriole
humming bird
jet black crow
winged extra terrestrial

and now
she sees
a thousand brilliant sparrows dive
into the crust of the earth;

weaving
threads of compassion
deep into the core;

harkening
the great and holy mending

birds
are
visible
prayers;

singing us,
weaving us
home,

with our own
forgotten song...


sacred thread words & image © Heather Rhodes at  Studio Petronella
self portrait january 2016