Created June 6, 2003.
This is a work of love.
There has been an inspiration of mutya, diwata and essence of that which is deeply Filipino. There have been others sources of inspiration, the books of the Filipino Spirituality movement and the artistry of Mary Ann Ubaldo, Geejay Arriola, Grace Nono and Michael Green have inspired me.
This site is about Babaylan consciousness, that of feminine spiritual leadership that comes from the Heart. Such leadership is imbued with deep inner wisdom and in turn inspires a communitys members to their own deep inner knowing. In this way, spiritual leadership it is not necessarily meant as religious leadership or to be in conflict with traditional male religious leadership. It is meant to complement and be part of the whole human experience. Babaylan is a Philippine Visayan term used for female village leadership and for shamans/priestesses. In the Philippines babaylans were forced underground during Spanish colonizaiton because of the conflicts of Christianity with animist beliefs and because of foreign western political power with local female power. Babaylan is a subversive term up to now. Today the babaylan is finding itself becoming a symbol of feminine power in Philippine society today and in Filipino diasporic communities around the world.
April 14, 2004:
Carolyn Brewer writes: "babaylan represents a subversive, power-full, and inextricable entanglement of woman with religious leadership."(page 157, Holy Confrontation).
In Philippine history, babaylan has consistently been subversive in religion (animism) and in political power (movements against colonizers).
A few months after creating the web site some new online work inspired by babaylan essence has come about. And the discussion group has explored further the significance of the babaylan in their own lives:
Excerpts from my discussion posts:
March 29, 2004
Babaylan lineages and traditions have been existing in the Philippines on the margins and there is a fear that the tradition will die out
but is it possible that it won't die out because of the rising interest in Filipino indigenous spirituality? And is it also possible that the babaylan tradition can be nurtured and spread in spirit if not in lineage? I pray that the lineage will find strength and maybe even a revival if that's what it takes for our InangBayan and the Filipino nation to find healing and move on to real progress, but I think that the essence and symbols of the work that is babaylan has a great deal of healing and mobilizing power for Filipino people, too.
July 15 2003:
Tagipusuon sg Babaylan is ilonggo or hiligaynon which are Visayan Filipino dialects. It would translate to the following: Priestess Heart', Essence of the Heart of the Priestess, Spirit of the Priestess, or Spirit of Philippine Women's Leadership, or Feminine Leadership's Spirit, Essence of Leadership. Let the title speak to you... choose your meaning...
June 30, 2003
Although I created this web site and put the ideas into words and art rendering, I do not own any of the concepts and ideas that are found in this site. The concepts and the wisdom belong to the AllThatIs, to God. The web site and the words and art are expressions of my creativity but the meanings, above all, are important for me to convey.
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Babaylan is one of the most intriguing figures of Philippine history and heritage that I will ever encounter in this lifetime.
This is a work of love not just because I love web design and love creating beautiful images, but also because Babaylan holds very deep and mysterious meaning.
I have only heard of the Philippine babaylan when I came to the United States. Not even when I was growing up in Bacolod and going to college in Manila did I hear of that term. Or maybe it was what I focused on that kept me from the elusive term.
I can see now that I had three encounters with the term babaylan (close together in time) before I bothered to take note of it.
In 1999, Mary Lou Hardillo-Werning emailed me about her new book "TransEuroExpress: Filipinas in Europe." It was through her and her work I encountered the Babaylan Network of Germany.
And then there was a stirring in the online writers' community of the Flipserv as Eileen Tabios' new book "Babaylan Anthology"(a collaboration with the esteemed Nick Carbo) was being launched in late spring of 2000. Both these women needed some promotion for their book via the web site of BagongPinay.
Then the third encounter came in March of 2000 when a Filipino American Women Network (FAWN) Babaylan Award came to me unexpectedly. It was for BagongPinay at www.newfilipina.com, which was a form of web community service work I do as my choice of vocation.
Months later, I finally took this closer, personal encounter as a message that I needed to decipher. And the key was in the idea(diwa) of the babaylan. I knew right away that I had to know more about this Energy, this Spirit(diwata). I came upon very little when I asked my mother and aunties. Actually, when I asked my mother about babaylan she laughed almost mockingly and said that they did not call them by that term but rather as bruja which is Spanish for witch. I almost felt betrayed---it was Spanish Priesthood that taught Filipinos to call their village shaman women witches... was this the beginning of the injuring to Filipino soul? I and my mother talked about it some more and she came to perceive them in a new way like I did... something worthy of respect... something mysterious waiting to be rediscovered...
Even after I uncovered very little more about babaylan in the following weeks, I realized that I wanted to be THE person who brought www.babaylan.com to life on the Internet. At the same time, I hesitated---how would it be done, what would be in it, what would be said? I tried a few drafts with some attempts at esoteric writing but they seemed lifeless and lame. I felt unworthy.
It just so happened that I had become acquainted with a priestess two years before in 1998 when I was just starting the BagongPinay web site. I "met" her via email through a U.S. based Filipina novelist, Cecilia Brainard, who I also met via the Internet. The priestess was Filipina but was in the U.S. and practiciing ancient tradition that did not hail from the Philippines.
Doing web work came at a time when I was already in a new phase in my life... I was in my early 30s, I had my second kid... I and my husband just bought a new home in the mountainous countryside of New England... Also a funny thing began to happen consistently in and around the time. I had already many sensitive and intuitive friends. And I had done some growing up in college(Diliman) with activists. Now I had begun to encounter activism via the Internet. And I began to encounter those who called themselves spiritual activists. I was also meeting more and more men and women who were doing work as teachers on varying levels... And I was becoming friends with those whom I later would find out were healers themselves. In 2001, I trained in the Reiki form of energy healing but I decided not to become a practitioner. Instead I wanted to see how healing energies could be transposed in other ways...
This site has been 3 years in the planning up until this summer of 2003. I realize now that my work began even earlier for me as for the past 6 years my own spiritual practices, social and religious bias and philosophical hangups have undergone major overhaul, reconstruction and renovation.. There has been new modes of personal meditation and a deepening yoga practice, spiritual reading and exploration, journaling and journeying and major upheaval in my own inner life before I could finally get closer to bringing something like this web site to fruition. It also, very importantly, took online discussion with kindred spirits and inquiring souls in other online community gatherings before I could get to this.
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June 6, 2003
Ironically, what pushed me to finally build www.babaylan.com were tshirts.
That is, it was the "Babaylan Spirit" art series I had designed as a special fundraiser for NewFilipina, Inc. I had stayed up for 2 nights creating colorful graphic art about the Babaylan Spirit... that was to be put on tshirts and mousepads. ; ) That was just 3 weekends ago. Almost exactly 3 years after my first encounters with the term babaylan. LOL
The tshirt art was more basic than these web pages. But the faces and their significance were already so colorful and alive to me that my hands, feet and an inner vision burned and I could not sleep in the wee hours of the morning. Not until I could elaborate upon the archetypes of warrior, healer, teacher and visionary with the art in this web site.
It was very easy once it began from the tshirts... the art and words in the main pages in this web site were made and uploaded in a matter of one day. No more drafts, charting, planning. It just flowed out of me. These are some of my most spontaneous original artistic renderings.
As I write this letter now, this is the 4rth day of the site in the making. And I appreciate now the draft pages I created 2 years ago. At that time they seemed lame and unsatisfying to me. But now I see that they do have their place---they will be the subpages of this web site---prayers, rituals, poetry...
I have been torn between passion and reluctance over the concept of this web site for three years. But it turns out that it was just a matter of being ready to face that which was already inside of me, inside my very bones that my ancestors passed on to me(a blond-blue-eyed American version of a hilot told me that) --- AND LETTING IT OUT...
I came upon the universal wisdom of the babaylan after a personal journey of transformation from within. It took place by exploring ancient and other old traditions of Universal Wisdom that came not from the Philippines. And the path is one that is still ongoing. I smile at the cosmic timing of it all... after I finally put out this web site---come about by exploration outside of my roots, outside of my mother's country... i finally came face to face with a personal connection, a door to learning more about Filipino spirituality... and the babaylan in my life have been suddenly coming forth. They have always been there... but for some reason... after the web site was bubbling out from my busy laptop... the babaylanes who have been veiling their work, their identities, their mystical efforts and practices... they have started to speak up and talk to each other over long distances... The connections are growing stronger...
I attribute the diwa(energy/spirit) of this site to the Great Spirit, God/Goddess/AllThatIs, Bathala... in Pilipino, the nameless, many-named Divine Bathala written in baybayin is very good to meditate on for the Filipino spiritual seeker(see my personal Bahala Meditations under Poems, Prayers, Rituals pages).
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A little more on the 4 elements:
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A little more on the archetypes:
Caroline Myss teaches us about these in her book Sacred Contracts(see book recommendations). She also teaches about our survival archetypes---Child, Prostitute, Saboteour, and Victim. All these symbolic figures can be manifested within us both as Light and as Shadow, from Love and from Fear.
Angeles Arrien teaches about the four-fold way of walking the path of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary(see book recommendations). It is the archetypes of Teacher, Warrior, Healer and Visionary, when enacted from our highest hopes and from love(and less with pride and the shadow of ego and fear) that bring us forward in life... that help us to mature and evolve... and most importantly, fulfill our highest purpose in life. But this does not make the other archetypes within us any less important. They all are.
We need to understand the personal mythology that undulates within us. To do so is to come to understanding with our Soul.
In your personal life, you can come to know your archetypes intimately within yourself. Get familiar with your survival archetypes and also your Fire, Water, Wind and Earth archetypes. You may find that you are struggling with your saboteur archetype even as you let the fire within you act for change in yourself and even society. You may find that you are a rebel who can harness your fire for good. You may realize that you like to be a queen and yet the noblest part of that role is when the position is used for change, generativity, wisdom and healing.
Our work, too, can embody the best of ourselves, the principles of Teacher, Warrior, Healer and Visionary and in any combination, Warrior and Teacher, Healer and Visionary, etc. These actions, these works that come from our love and radiate our spirit are our noblest contributions that we can give of our lives. Because it is of the giving of ourselves that others can benefit from, communities flourish---- and society itself will evolve.
What in your life embodies Fire for Change, Water for Healing, Wind for Understanding, and Earth for generativity? For yourself? For others?
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One of the things I love about doing web design and web publishing is that the work can be shared with people regardless of their geography and what time zone... and that I can publish and update my work almost from anywhere and at any hour... web design is also a favorite medium for me since it is ongoing and always changeable and malleable. I can always go in and fix embarassing typos, tweak layout, refine how i am presenting the concepts through the graphics and words...
Also, I love that web sites are great tools to create community and sharing... I would like to continue to add on features so that other people can come in and share of themselves too.
And so! I would like to welcome you to share your own thoughts, experience and ideas on the spirit of the babaylan at the feedback section. Especially, if you would like to share your words with many other people aside from myself. I know that there are many of you out there who let the babaylan spirit dance in harmonious ways within you and so I hope that you can connect with others somehow through this site.
And again, if you would like to join discussion or create more
It is my hope that the web site will continue to exist on the Internet via the publishing efforts of the organization of NewFilipina, Inc. Please support that organization.
If you would just like to get in contact with me, then please email me at this address:. If you are interested in the Babaylan Art Series Fundraiser items I started creating before this web site you can email me for more info. I have to admit, they did come out pretty cool. I have inspiration from the AllThatIs to thank for any cool ideas that come my way and I express and somehow people think I own it... but I don't really.
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It is the very same thing that is also inside of all of you. Let it dance within you and radiate outwards.
As Maya Angelou says: Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.
And so, mga kapwa, may you danc
May you receive this in openness and your life be enriched by it.
If you have any links and resources to share, please email me.
Ever out of Love.
Babaylan.com. All rights reserved©2004 P. Paredes Daly