The Sacred Cloth of Ukraine

I’m going to pause this week the telling of my unfolding story of the two year cocoon. 

There’s a calling within to share a culture’s story of hope and perseverance, of love and connection.

In sunlight is the hope and willingness of the veil of illusion to be dropped and all suffering to end.

(If you missed the last post Part Five: The Gift of Mom(s) click here before reading on.) 

I want to start by saying a deep thank you for being a part of my community.

It’s a great joy to be writing again, and an even deeper joy that I get to share it with you.

When I write, I imagine I’m writing to one person, while I know, and you know, it goes to many.

It can sometimes feel impersonal as a sender and receiver of an email “newsletter”, but the sense of community for me is there too.

I feel this when I receive notes back from what I write or just knowing that you’re reading them fills my heart.

A couple of weeks ago I had a wonderful surprise when I decided to look at some general “stats” of my newsletter – how many opened, what was clicked on…and low and behold, it shows what country you’re in (I don’t know who’s name and email is associated with which country).

I had assumed up to this point that those of you reading my newsletter were in the United States (forgetting there’s a reason it’s called the “worldwide web”).

But what I joyfully learned is that there are several of you reading in Great Britain, Canada, Sweden, Romania, Mexico and France…and three of you in the Ukraine.

It especially struck me to be connected with you in the Ukraine during this time of war. 

I’m deeply grateful for all of you reading and the connection we share through writing of the soul.

The story below is in honor and inspiration of the Ukrainian people and how we are all connected. 


A few days after Russia invaded Ukraine, my heart filled with sadness for what was unfolding, I was deep into a book titled At the Root of this Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst.

The author, Carol Lee Flinders, was lamenting to a friend that we as a species have no direct connection with the pre-patriarchy Goddess cultures that date back 40,000 years. 

Her friend enlightened her to the fact that yes, there is a culture that is still connected – that of Ukraine (I paused reading – stunned by the timing). 

(Those of you reading in Ukraine, please let me know if there are any inaccuracy’s in what’s written below)

In the Ukrainian household the woman has a corner that is filled with ikons, family mementos, flowers, and soft light or candles, all set atop the “ritual cloth” called a Rushnyk. 

It is considered the most beautiful place in the home. 

Rushnyk’s are also draped over family photos and are a symbol of welcome. 

A Ukrainian proverb says that “a house without a Rushnyk is not a home.”

What’s especially poignant about these ritual cloths dating back 5000 years is the symbolism of the embroidery and how they are used. 

Averaging six feet long and typically embroidered with red thread representing the beauty and splendor of life, there are symbolic images of the sun, fertility and health, the tree of life, the afterlife, family gatherings, and more.

Depending on the region of Ukraine, the symbols may be more geometric in shape (pictured above) or floral (pictured above and below).

The symbols are the spiritual language of the Goddess (some of these symbols are also used in native cultures).

These cloths get passed down from generation to generation of women, or as needed, made new and given to a girl child at birth. 

They are used repeatedly during a woman’s life: during the wedding ceremony one is used to tie the new couple together, when giving birth it’s hung on a beam overhead for the woman to pull on during labor, and swaddle her baby later….

…and when she dies, the Rushnyk is used to lower her coffin into the earth, with one tied to her grave marker each spring in her memory. 

A woman may have many ritual cloths that are kept in a wooden chest that she inherits from her mother and grandmother, which is thought of as a cache of stored-away feminine power.

I keep that image with me when I think of Ukraine – stored away feminine power, the sacred feminine, the ritual cloth in the belongings of those fleeing war, and/or perhaps a symbol of hope as bombs fall outside. 

This sacred cloth represents the symbol and life of the divine feminine that runs through us all, regardless of gender, race, country or religious background.

While it may lie dormant and suppressed in most cultures, it is still there in the gardens we plant, the meals we make, and the lives we tend. 

The divine feminine is half of our spiritual journey. It brings us to wholeness with God and all that is when joined with the sacred masculine.

Look no further than the celebration of it in nature during spring – it is everywhere.

The threads of the Rushnyk remind us of the thread of the soul, joining us together, in all corners of the world, from all backgrounds, in our differences and sameness.

American poet William Stafford writes so eloquently about the thread in his poem titled “The Way It Is:”

There’s a thread you follow.
It goes among things that change.
But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die;
and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread. 

I like to imagine each of us reading this, connected together, our hand and heart holding the thread, sending love and hope to the people of Ukraine and all those suffering from war.

I’m deeply grateful for the women of Ukraine, keeping the rituals of the sacred feminine alive, reminding us all of the gift within ourselves when we honor the whole. May peace be.

More to come dear friend, from my heart to yours.

To read the next post, Part Six: Simply Listen click here.

Would you like to receive the blog directly in your email each week it’s written? If yes, enter your first name and email below and follow the prompt. You’ll also receive my free ebook From Anxiety to Peace: Three Simple Steps to A Heart Centered Meditation Practice. I look forward to having you in our community!

Categories: Feminine Power

About the Author: Angela Patnode

My passion, my calling, is for you to be totally you. Through private coaching, in-depth retreats, and online group coaching programs, I help you tap into your intuition and clarify your desires and vision, I guide you to take active steps toward making your desires a reality.

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