The revolution is here
Guide humanity on the quest for spiritual healing, personal empowerment and wholeness, while fulfilling her own divine purpose
Healed from a violent abusive relationship where both her hands were cut off with a samurai sword
Shining a light on violence against women to positively create change
Domestic abuse is a frightening, uncomfortable
topic and I don’t like thinking or talking about it. Plus, I’m continually frustrated with the media’s angle, the perpetual ‘Why did she stay?’ accusation instead of the ‘Why didn’t he stop?’ question.
The media and subsequently our society’s focus on victim-shaming and abuse-details pornography, makes my blood boil, and I think it all actually adds to a culture of violence.
So when my arty friend told me I had to read Simonne Butler’s book and try and interview her, I was reluctant.
I didn’t want to re-tell the story of Simonne’s abuse and selfishly, I didn’t want to read her book because then I would feel her pain.
But I did want to tell her story of hope, of healing, of recovering her power – because this is the part of the story that I feel is missing in main-stream media. It’s the follow-up story that we don’t get to hear from the survivors of abuse.
So I faced my demons and started reading Double-Edged Sword.
And it was brutal. And honest. And matter-of-fact. I cried – often. Broken, choking, heart-aching sobs accompanied by the gnawing, omnipresent feeling of being trapped. There were parts of the book I didn’t want to read but did anyway, and there were parts I had to skip over. Other parts were so beautiful, I hope they stay in my heart forever.
Simonne is irrepressible, she is Moonstone Phoenix and she shows us how to burn and rise from the ashes to be reborn over and over. We all have so much to learn from her.
You are such a confident, inspiring woman now, but in your book, you say you used to have such low self-esteem.
2003 – In hospital, one month after the attack
Photo Credit: Serena Stevenson
I was always the first to put my hand up, the first to volunteer, the first to do the family talks at funerals – so I’ve always had confidence, but I had no value for myself. I felt I wasn’t worthwhile.
I had adults in my life who had been both loving and abusive. They would build me up, then tear me down, then build me up again and tear me down again. It was a continual cycle for most of my life.
I already had body issues at 9 because my mum was telling me I was fat – she is itty-bitty tiny and I didn’t fit her jeans. I’d use food to numb the pain inside and by the time I was 11 years old, I was the biggest woman in my family.
I felt like a worthless piece of shit that no-one would be able to love.
I felt that if it was just me, I wasn’t enough – I had to give people something, or do something for them, or be somewhere for them to want to be my friend, or for them to want to hang out with me.
Logically, I knew I had all these wonderful friends and some family members who were very supportive. Intellectually, I knew I was good enough and strong and independent and that I was worthy of everything.
But emotionally and spiritually I felt like I was nothing, I wasn’t good enough, and over the years, this was all I came to believe.
You write that: “Women are trained from birth to hand out the plates and eat last. Look after the children, and the husband, the parents, the siblings, the babies, the animals, the friends and the workmates” * And I would add that men are trained to be the fighters, to be tough, to dominate, to be in power.
And to not show their emotions.
Yes! It’s a system that doesn’t work for anyone.
At the moment we are all so disconnected from Spirit and from ourselves, and also from our inner masculine and inner feminine sides. They are warring with each other as opposed to working in harmony and balance.
But I do think there is a revolution going on right now and it’s a silent revolution – Tracy Chapman says it sounds like a whisper…
I have friends that are raising young, beautiful men, but there are a lot of men who didn’t get raised like that. It’s up to them now, if they have heard the call, to step up and change themselves and the people around them.
I’m meeting more and more men who are becoming connected, becoming aware, becoming comfortable with their femininity, and realising that they are two sides of one coin.
You write when you suffered your first beating from Tony and went back to work with a black eye, that no one asked any questions, no one said anything.
Well, I don’t remember if they did, but I was in quite a lot of distress right then. I remember my boss looking at me as if she didn’t believe me. I was so anxious to get away from the job I was in – I felt like that was an abusive situation as well, but I don’t remember anyone pulling me aside and saying “I think this is abuse.”
I’d always been so bubbly, so happy, so cruisey. Then once people would get to know me they’d say “Oh wow, you aren’t as shallow as we thought.”
Of course, they were only swimming with me in the shallow end of the pool – because I could compartmentalize. I had to. I grew up in an abusive environment.
After that first beating, what would you have liked to have heard from other people?
I don’t know. It would have been good if I hadn’t felt so judged. I felt judged by people anyway even outside of that relationship. Regardless of whether they believed my story or not, their judgment of me was on their face.
I was so in love with him and I really believed when he said he would change. I really believed him when he said that he wouldn’t do it again and what he said about making a life together.
And I also really believed what he said about threatening my friends and family.
Looking back, I do know it could have all stopped there if I had reached out or asked for help. But instead I started retreating inside myself and scrambling to keep up appearances.
In the past, you have been too scared to ask for help. How do you ask for help now?
All the time! I ask for help from my partner, from my friends, and from Facebook.
I have this amazing support network around me who are continually there. I’m really lucky that I have all of these beautiful supportive people who don’t judge me, who don’t care that I’m in my jarmies and have been in them for 3 days because I’ve been writing!
I still have to force myself to ask for help – it’s not something that comes naturally for me. But I spend so much time telling others to ask for help that it would be hypocritical of me to not ask!
I still have to pull myself up and say “Hang on Honey, you need help. You can’t do this by yourself. Time to ask”.
But I’ll still go around and around in my mind thinking about who is the right person that I could ask, even if feels like it’s going to kill me – which obviously it isn’t. It’s a continual lesson for me.
But it’s so important to ask for help, and to be able to know that I am worthy of receiving it.
Certainly, when we were in the finishing stages of Double-Edged Sword I was melting down, left right and centre. I was at a friend’s stables and when she asked me, “How are you?” I just burst into tears. I needed help, but I had no money, no way of being able to see the people I needed to see. She asked me, “Do you need to see someone?” and then she paid for me to go to one of my dear friends and therapists – not once, but twice because she decided once wasn’t enough!
Once upon a time, I would never have let that happen. I never would have let someone pay for me to do something. I never would have involved people in the stress of my life.
But this is the thing. Before, I held on for so long and I tried so hard to do it all by myself, but that didn’t work out for me, did it?
In your book, you talk about setting boundaries and the importance of establishing what is acceptable right at the beginning. I understand the theory of setting boundaries right from the start. But how do you suggest I go about setting boundaries when it’s behaviour that I’ve already let the person get away with hundreds of times before?
That’s so hard. But even if we let people get away with it and away with it and away with it, we still have an opportunity when they do it the next time to say “No, we are going to be relating differently from now on. This isn’t working for me, and it isn’t working for the new relationship that we are going to be creating.”
And to call people on their shit. And it’s hard. But people sometimes respect you for it and other times, people don’t even know they are doing it or that it’s affecting us because we aren’t speaking up. So we need to speak up.
When they do something that is crossing across our oneness, then we need to learn to be assertive. Of course, we need to pick our battles too, because we don’t want to go in on every single thing, every single day because that’s going to be really stressful. But if you keep thinking “I’ve let that slide and I’ve let that slide,” try approaching them in a non-judgmental way, always leading with how you feel rather than telling them they need to do This! Or This!
You could say “I feel completely trapped when you do that, I feel disrespected when this happens and I know that I have let this slide, but I’m not going to anymore because it’s detrimental to me.”
Simonne riding her horse out of a cave
Photo Credit: Anna Low
I always come back to horse training because that’s really clear boundaries.
With my horse, I might not notice I’m letting the little things slide or letting my boundaries go until one day she stands on my foot! Or I’m walking and I stop, and she then walks right up the back of me! That means I’ve been letting my boundaries drop because if she thought I was her leader, she’d never do that!
So I turn around, I instantly back her up, I pull her head down and make sure she knows that isn’t acceptable.
And that I might have let things slip but that’s over. I’m back, I’m on top, and I’m the chick in charge.
It’s the same thing we need to do with humans – with kids and adults where we have let things slide. At anytime we can change, we can decide what is no longer acceptable to us, and then we have to communicate it and be consistent.
I see it in the supermarket with mothers whose children are being abysmal. She will be saying “No, no, no, no…. Oh okay, there you go”. And I think “Oh My God. You are training a potential rapist. Your no means nothing.” They learn that they just need to keep persisting.
But it’s so important to be consistent and be assertive – and I know that it’s hard and not many of us can be all the time.
I have to continually remind myself that I’m allowed to have my own say, allowed to have my own boundaries. It’s okay for me to say how I feel and I’m not doing it to hurt people. But I can’t help that they get hurt when I have to say my thing. I have to protect myself, keep myself safe, keep my boundaries safe.
Because I didn’t have boundaries most of my life, this is a continual process. It’s like consent, but it’s with myself now where I’m continually checking in, is this okay? What about this, is this okay?
You write about your hand being stuck and wrenched when you were leading Kindra the horse, and this new injury unexpectedly led to more mobility. And you’ve suggested that the Universe helped you get out of your violent situation because you weren’t doing what you should have. Can you share with me, more thoughts on the Universe.
So I feel that the Universe is very benign, loving and supportive. I believe we all come in with certain missions on this earth and don’t always know what they are. We might get sidetracked.
The sensitive ones, the modern day medicine women, well in the past, she would have been taken to an ashram and everything she needed to re-member would have been taught to her.
But now, we come into this word with abusive parents, or in the foster care system and we have to find this all ourselves.
And some of us, the most powerful of us, have to go to hell. And that’s where we find our power – on our way back out of hell.
I had tried so many times to get away, so many times to change things, and I was just too scared, too compassionate with him, and too scared of change. But change has to happen. The more we fight it, the more we hold on, the harder it feels.
And so the Universe swept in for me – and I wouldn’t recommend doing it this way – and said, “You weren’t making those changes you needed to, so this is going to happen and I am going to force you to make those changes and learn that lesson.” Often they aren’t as drastic as what I went through.
I think that the Universe never throws anything at us that we can’t handle, but we have to choose to handle it. It wants the best for us, for us to be the best we can, and in doing so, enhance humanity.
I recently learnt through my Four Seasons Journey that shamans were historically chosen by their tribe because they survived and healed from an experience that ‘should’ have incapacitated them. They were not only special because they survived, but they were special because they had suffered, they knew the way out, and could then help others. Is this an idea that resonates with you?
Yes! It absolutely is! While these shamans would have come in at birth with those abilities, it’s often triggered by a life-event. My Master Shaman Teacher says, “We can only help those to the degree we can help ourselves.”
This is why there is a big difference with healers and shaman. Healers don’t have to have sorted out their shit. They can be all love and light and fluff along, which is fine – some people need that.
But a shaman has been to hell and back and has risen above it. A shaman has all of these extra tools in their knapsack to help others, because they do have a line out of hell.
Feb 2017 – Stall at Bethells Community Day, with her book and oracle reading basket
Photo Credit: Bobby Lewis-Bradley
It’s really a conversation. In the beginning, I’m trying to find out why they have come to see me. Sometimes we get right into the nitty gritty straight away, other times it might take a few visits before they are ready to open up about the real reason why they came.
I’ll often scan their energy field, top to toe to see if I can find anything that’s blocking them. We may do Oracle readings if that’s appropriate. We might do some visualisation exercises and I also work with First Light Flower Essences of New Zealand. Every person is different and once I talk with them and my spirit interacts with their spirit, I’ll have a better idea of where I need to go.
For some people we might only work with conversation, where I’ll ask questions and often they will answer all their own questions themselves.
For example when they say they want to change their life, I’ll ask “What would that life look like? What do you want for yourself? Let’s plan it!”
And they’ll be surprised – they have never thought about their own life like that before.
I’m wondering if the best thing we can do to become more whole (what I call becoming better women), is to actively pursue pleasure. What do you think about this idea?
Pursuing pleasure can have detrimental effects like drugs, alcohol and sex addiction, plus it can take away from our purpose in life. But I do agree that as women, it’s really important to pursue self-care pleasure in our lives – to really enjoy and have joy and passion in ourselves and what we do. Because that’s how we shine.
For me, the way to wholeness was through self-acceptance. Taking an objective look at myself, wandering through everything, getting through the shame and accepting everything.
Once you can accept everything that you are, everything that you’ve been, every decision that you have made, no one can shame you anymore.
Another really big part of becoming whole has been the shamanic practice of Soul Retrieval – calling all of the lost parts of my soul home. I tend to do mass soul retrievals.
I say, “Every single part of me that is ready to come home, come home to me now! I’m going to leave my arms open for you to come home! I know that I didn’t treat you well and I know you were scared, but it’s okay now, and I promise I can take care of you. Look at all these others that have come home already! The door is not shutting, come home whenever you want. My arms are wide open.”
So I leave myself open for these pieces, but not for anything else – just for my own perfect pieces to come back.
It might be a month later and I’ll be milling around and all of a sudden, I’ll feel a whoosh, or I’ll have a vision of some part of myself and where they were and now here they are, integrating into my heart.
Soul Retrieval is a continual practice for me. Whenever I feel like I’ve done all the work that I’ll ever need to do in myself, something else will pop up to be healed and I’ll realise I’m not as evolved and awesome as I thought I was! It’s another opportunity to grow and call someone home that I didn’t realise was missing.
Simonne, if you were in a position to lead a group of women, to lead them into a life more wild, a life more feminine, what would your battlecry be?
Fuck yeah – we’re doing it! Welcome to the Revolution!
For a Recalibration Healing with Simonne appointment, please apply online. Appointments are available via telephone, online, and in person.
Simonne also does a free Friday Oracle Reading on Facebook. I’ve found it wonderfully accurate!
*Butler, Simonne with Jenkin, Andra. 2016. Double-Edged Sword The Simonne Butler Story. New Zealand. Mary Egan Publishing. p.129
I need to hear more stories about strong women leading beauty-filled and spiritual lives, and so I created Empress Crow and Rabbit. It’s a forum to showcase the inspirational stories of women in uniquely feminine careers. It's also a bridge between what we think we know and what we feel is right. Thank you for joining me – let’s all learn, grow and celebrate the feminine together.
Photo credit: Lucy Spartalis