babaylan consciousnous
notes from the artist

Created June 6, 2003.
Last update April 2004

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 community’s 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:

    • When many of us Filipinas speak of babaylan outside of the formal lineages, I think that we are talking about the diwa (essence, archetype, soul, spirit) of the babaylan. For me, the babaylan diwa can be understood better by breaking it down into archetypal roles of healer, teacher, warrior, visionar
    • y and priestess that serve the Greater Good. That is something I came to with the exploration of ideas and art at

      I truly do believe that the title must be conferred by the community and used with care and respect. To use "babaylan" in a self-assumed way to raise one's status or rank or to gain privilege amongst others would be presumptuous and disrespectful to that tradition.
    • I find it fascinating that _______ does not take on the title of babaylan although she has in fact been bestowed it by a true lineage of babaylan, and that instead she embraces the archetype of the Babaylan. I think that the essence of the babaylan is what is the key in the "appropriation" of the term of babaylan. Filipinas are taking the archetype as their symbol, banner and the carrier of the diwang babaylan. Not necessarily assuming the title per se.

      Female Filipino leadership in communities abroad is alive and strong. And so I think that it is inevitable that "babaylan" archetype is being reclaimed by those abroad also. What is taking place back in the Philippines and around the world is related and part of bigger trends…

      One can consider if a ... pinay's work reflects any archetypal/diwa babaylan roles. Does the work of that said person embody community service work of the Teacher, Warrior, Healer, Visionary, or Priestess? Does the work heal and serve the Greater Good? Another level of perceiving whether a kick-ass pinay embodies babaylan spirit is her degree of spirituality and higher awareness, and whether said person perceives her work as an act of divine service in healing individuals and in healing society. Is there a calling involved? Does this person's work carry a higher vision to liberate self and others from oppression on levels such as social, political, spiritual, and philosophical?
    • The source of "babaylan" as a term on the rise in usage is not necessarily because of the women's movement itself or just because Filipinas are necessarily looking for a term like "goddess" or "diva" in their own language. I myself find myself drawn to "babaylan" archetypal roles and to using "diwa" "diwata" these days but not because of popular culture. There is something within me that drives me, that urges me to find the language that fits where I am in life and the work I am doing. There is something calling for exploration and clarification in order to understand better why the babaylan presence and name is on the rise. I think that something even bigger than just appropriation of language and terms is taking place.

      There is an overall Source (capital S) that causes us women these days to find terms that call upon feminine divine and the traditions of goddess and upon traditions of priestessing and being "female bridges to the divine". And yes, although I was not comfortable with "goddess" when I first encountered it two years ago, today, I have to acknowledge that these things have to do with Goddess Rediscovery movements, with the reclamation of the Feminine Aspect of spirituality and the Divine…

      My personal belief is that the essence of the Feminine Divine is on an inevitable ascent within a Grand Progress of Time. There is a cosmic shift in dynamic balance of the masculine/feminine aspects of the soul of humanity. When I say this I am not talking about expressions of feminism or schools of feminist theory yet. I am addressing the Source, the Spirit within humans that causes them to do what they do. Spirit guides us. Theology and feminist theory take the next step of identifying that spirit and "grounding" it. But the Source is bigger than all of us. I think that the trend has to do with women and men awakening to Feminine spirit and they are looking for the language to express it. A rise of Feminine Energies and the Feminine Divine in the world is manifesting in humanity and the linguistic terms that we grasp at are external signs and indicators of the intangible… initializing efforts to ground Spirit.

      The spiritual grounding here has to do with a return to accepting female spiritual leadership... For centuries and even millennium, in Christianized countries animism and paganism remain alive and become intertwined with Christian beliefs. Celtic pagan symbolism are alive within Christianity. Filipino superstition and spirituality is also very much an example of pagan/Christian beliefs intertwined… The ease of identification and immediate devotion to Jesus' mother Mary has very much to do with Filipinos and most Catholics' attunement and need to be connected to the feminine aspect of the Divine. Indigenous beliefs and belief in feminine divine energy should not be eradicated within Christianized people. I think that if it is… the Christianized people suffer identity crisis as in the complex case of Filipinos and colonial mentality.

      There is something spiritually missing for humans when religion rejects the Feminine aspect of the Divine and when it rejects the presence of spirit in Mother Nature. I think that the rise of the diwa of babaylan is a natural progression in this spiritual search to fill the gap.

      Male spiritual leadership can not totally fulfill the needs of community ministering and so female spiritual leadership of the babaylan and her archetypal roles are appealing [to Filipinos and female spiritual leaders are appealing to many people of different backgrounds around the world]...Catholic and Christian populations do need women's leadership, need the mother energy, need the female energies because that is how humans are built to be complete.

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, 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 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 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:
A few weeks ago, I was guided to make the web site by honoring the elements and the spirit of humanity's best that they embodied. I felt that there was indeed a spiritual tie between the elements and the babaylan, and those with the leadership archetypes of warrior, teacher, visionary and healer... There is a tie between essence of creation and elements of creation... The babaylan's highest role is to remind her community of that connection... And thus the final key inspiration of this web site were the Elements---water(tubig), fire(kalayo), wind/air(hangin), and earth(duta)... Later, just a few weeks after the site was "born", Mary Ann Ubaldo came to my home to collaborate on some baybayin works that had nothing to do with the topic of this site... From the start, the work took on a spiritual form that I did not expect... Then a few days later she sent me some very important books... one of them "Banahaw" explains the importance of the four elements in Filipino spirituality. Banahaw spiritualists believe that the interaction of the four elements represents the divinity of a person(tao)... At Mt. Banahaw centuries-old altars have been made honoring the four elements, Creation, and people's holy interaction with the Divine. I believe that Filipino indigenous spirituality today does not necessarily worship Nature, rather, it honors Nature as vehicles or expressions of God's spirit. In Filipino popular devotions, folk spirituality, there is a marriage of honoring of Nature and Christianity.

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A little more on the archetypes:
We embody many archetypal figures such as Scholar, Hedonist, Artist, Pilgrim, Queen, Shape-shifter, Servant, Rebel, Knight, Magician, Actor, etc.

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
discussion about babaylan then send an email to:

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.


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