I own and have read and use all of Lisa Lister’s books. I find her way of writing very engaging and very, very authentic. Her approach to everything is very real. And by everything, I mean: magic; living life; incorporating differing needs and wants into her life. So I surprised myself. While I pre-ordered this book and it arrived back in November right on schedule, it was only last Friday I picked it up. But then, I think Self Source-ery is the kind of book to be read on it’s own schedule. Now fair warning: Self Source-ery is not based in Irish paganism. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading. If this sort of thing interests you.
Who is Lisa Lister?
In her own words, from her own website:
Crowned ‘the defender of female awesomeness’ by Cooler magazine, I offer support, space, remembrance, spiritual guidance, cyclic maps and counsel to women who are exploring, navigating and wanting to heal their relationship with their body, power, sex, creativity, pleasure + passion in these ‘interesting’ timesThe Sassy She
I first came across Lisa Lister when I was working on better understanding my body. In particular, my menstrual cycle and how to live with it. And how to manage my life so every month or six weeks, a week to ten days of hell didn’t completely throw my life off the bus by a week to ten days of hell. The first books I read from Lisa were Code Red and Love Your Lady Landscape. The books presented me with a new way of understanding and working with my body that proved invaluable. Especially in the days being told I was “subfertile”.
There is a whole lot that I love about Lisa, but also, I love this excerpt from the page quoted above:
ANOTHER NOTE: I often get asked, specifically in response to my books: ‘why SO MUCH womb talk? Am I less of a woman or witch without a uterus?’The Sassy She
My response: Yes, I do talk about wombs a LOT.
You definitely DO NOT need a womb to be a witch or to be a woman, I celebrate the womb as a place of power, medicine + magic because doctors threatened to ‘whip mine out’ + I’ve worked really bloody hard to heal her + love her + to recognise the power I hold there + I want to support those who have had similar experiences to do the same. I only ever speak, teach + share from personal experience + wouldn’t DARE try to be a spokesperson for EVERYONE, but of COURSE you can be powerful, be a witch AND be a woman without a womb – abso-bloody-lutely.
FYI: You also NEVER need permission from me, or from anyone for that matter, to tell you whether you’re a witch, a woman and/or a powerhouse of a human. ACTUAL FACTUAL.
This is in line with my own approach and I love that she is so open and honest about this topic. No one has the right to say whether you are or are not a woman other than you. And you can change your mind on a minute-by-minute basis, as far as I’m concerned. One decision doesn’t have to stand for the rest of your life. Now, in the interests of full transparency, whatever about Lisa Lister, I have not felt this way my entire life. For a long time, probably longer than I should have, I clung to the biological, binary view of gender. But books like those written by Lisa are how I changed my mind.
What about the book, Orlagh?
Self Source-ery is about 250 pages long, so compared to my fantasy books? Short. But there is a lot packed into it. Now fair warning (repeated): this isn’t Irish pagan related. Lisa draws from all sorts of sources and explains them all as she works through this.
I like the way the book is structured. We have an intro, three sections and an outro. There is a section at the start explaining what self source-ery is, what it means. There is an explanation of the different items that will reappear throughout the book, whether it is rituals to support the work described or journal prompts to explore deeper. Side note: I’ve read the book, but I fully intend to revisit those journal book.
The three sections are:
Come to your senses
Trust your instincts
Remember your magic
And Self Source-ery takes the reader through thinking, exercises, through exercises and Lisa’s own journey for each of those sections. Lisa reaches back to her mother and grandmother for practices they showed her. She describes her own experiences in places of power in this world. She gives us the opportunity to explore our own places of power. It feels raw and honest, while being hopeful and helpful.
Come to your senses
This section of Self Source-ery is about the physical. (If you were in my head, this would be Brigid the Smith area) Many of the exercises and suggestions are about getting back in touch with our bodies and what our bodies can tell us. This is always for me, the basis of any period of growth.
Lisa is very open about the fact that this is a messy process. That’s a thread through the whole book. But she consistently draws it back to us. Ourselves. Our bodies. our minds. And it’s gratifying to see that some of the things I practice myself are mentioned here (she talks about “Shakira-style hip movements“!
Trust your instincts
There are many ways in which the modern world tells us to not trust ourselves. For me, this ties into the emotional most of all (and links with Brigid the Healer). In this section, Lisa discusses the things where the body knows, but to which the mind can’t put words. She talks about past lives and their impact on our current lives. Speaking our truth, the patriarchy, good girl conditioning… it all comes up here.
As well as some hard hitting journal prompts around how it feels to speak and live our truths. (This bit hit a bit harder with the passing of Sinead O’Connor last week as well). Like the Healer, Lisa knows that the messy, the difficult, the bits we don’t really want to acknowledge are probably bits we need to look at more closely. Self knowledge…
Remember your magic
With a title like Self Source-ery, you’d expect some magic to be mentioned. And it is. Throughout the book. But in the third part, the magic really comes into it’s own. (Yup, Brigid the Poet for me). And Lisa gives us ceremonies and talking points and all sorts of things. But she talks about knowing ourselves most of all here.
Because there is magic in all of us. There is magic in our bones. What causes us to breath? That alone is magic. Our of all the millions of sperm/egg combinations, one single combination led to each of us. (Unless you’re part of identical twins… but even then – you’re unique!)
So I think it’s fair to say, I’m a fan of Self Source-ery. I’m a fan of Lisa Lister as well, in case that didn’t come through. It’s nice to get a confirmation that other people are doing some of the same or similar work that I’m doing. Both with myself and with other people. It’s nice to know that that bone-deep knowing I get sometimes isn’t unique to me.
I also like the way Lisa is so clear about the messiness that leads to these learnings and knowings. Seriously. Wisdom, I’m more and more certain, doesn’t come to those who never struggle. Thankfully – kinda – nearly all of us have struggles in life, albeit some more than others! But that messiness is where most of our learning can happen. Or at least, if you’re someone like me that struggles with learning from other people’s experiences.
If you’ve read any of Lisa Lister’s books, you know what to expect here. If you haven’t, you can start with this one, or indeed any of the rest of them. But she’s worth exploring, in my opinion. Especially if anything I’ve written here speaks to you.