Celebrating World Goddess Day

The wisdom of woman, gained through her identification with her body, with the Goddess, and with the earth, was no longer revered, but ridiculed and rejected. Once honoured as prophetess and seer, woman was now scorned. Her instincts and intuition, through which she perceived the elemental energies in the cycles of nature and her knowledge of healing, were rebuked and humiliated. –Judith Duerk “Circle of Stones: Woman’s Journey to Herself”

Those of us in the Goddess community have known for quite some time that the Divine Feminine force is at last reemerging in the world. We know the scales have been out of balance for too long. Although it would seem that war, destruction, illness, and poverty are raging at an all time high, we also know that events sometimes have to reach critical mass before something better can be born. That is where She Who Is really shines. She takes the royal mess we’ve made of things and creates beauty. She reaches down into the muck and plants seeds that will thrive. Where we may see nothing but a wasteland, She sees potential.

So today, in honor of the Lady in her many forms and manifestations, people all over the globe will celebrate World Goddess Day. Perhaps there is an event in your area that you can attend, or maybe you can find the time to have a quiet ritual of your own. I chose to express my devotion through art by crocheting a Harvest Goddess for my altar. It was a labor of love that took several days to complete, and now it will be ready for the upcoming full moon and the Autumn Equinox.  You can find the free pattern for the body here.  How you decorate and adorn Her is entirely up to you!  Get creative!  Blessed Be

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THE BACKLASH HAS BEGUN: GODDESSES, PRIESTESSES, WITCHES – STAND YOUR GROUND WITH GRACE AND POWER!

Jennifer R. Miller:

Brilliant post by Priestess Bairavee Balasubramaniam, Ph.D. for all of us who love and serve the Goddess.

Originally posted on Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam:

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All around us, we see signs of suppression, of rising hostility towards the Divine Feminine and Spiritual Paths and Persons who honor Her in ways that challenge deeply rooted patriarchal norms. Whether it’s the abuse of ISIS, or the mis-guided morphing of Goddess Kali Ma’s image with the spectre of religious extremism… Whether it’s the ousting of a sacred grove to Goddess Cybele, or a judge willing to consider outlawing witchcraft and tarot readings …. Or even that email you get in your inbox with one claiming that you cannot possibly be living a life of Love aligned with Spirit because you do not share their faith.

The signs are there – and so many of us, women priestesses in particular, have strong memories of the kinds of suppression, persecution and condemnation that can result – in this life, and in others. Those born as male may also share similarly…

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The Most Insidious Forms of Patriarchy Pass Through the Mother

Jennifer R. Miller:

This is a wonderful, thought-provoking post from Womb of Light.

Originally posted on Womb Of Light:

Patriarchy is the social organization of a culture in which men hold more power than women. There is a common misconception that men are the only problem of patriarchy. Many continue to believe that only men perpetuate patriarchal thinking. However, women also perpetuate patriarchal attitudes.

Maria Pace-Wynters

Most of us learn patriarchal thinking in our families and it is usually taught unconsciously by mothers. This can be particularly damaging for daughters and their ability to flourish as empowered women because a mother’s treatment of her daughter gets internalized as her own sense of self. The patriarchal messages daughters receive from their mothers are more insidious and damaging than any of the cultural messages combined. Why? Because they come from the one person the daughter must bond with in order to survive.

The mother wound is a product of patriarchy. On a personal level, it is the mother’s projection of her own unhealed…

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Four Letter Word Starting with “S”

When four psychologists studied the phenomenon known as “slut shaming”—defaming a woman for the presumed frequency of her sexual activity—they learned the extent to which women shame each other, often for reasons that actually have little to do with promiscuity.

The quote above was excerpted from a longer article published in Psychology Today that snagged my attention.  I wanted to ignore it and just let the whole thing pass by without comment, but I’m being prompted (read: cattle-prodded) to meet it head-on.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “slut” has been around since the 15th century, although the spelling has changed a bit.  It was slutte in Middle English.  Even so, the definition has remained the same:  a slovenly woman; a promiscuous woman, especially a prostitute; a saucy girl.

Hmmm.  Really?  If saucy = slut, then I am all that, baby, and then some.  I hope you are, too!

So, both men and women have been tossing this damning little word around for over 600 years, all because of prudishness and some very warped views about sexuality that grew like weeds right along with the church’s dogma.  Whew.  Could we just stop giving that word so much power, please?  We have reduced it down to four letters.  I think it’s time to wipe it out entirely.

While slut shaming is nothing new, the article does at least shed some light on why women go there in the first place.  It appears to be more of a class divider, and that only serves to keep women locked in the same downward spiral of catty competitiveness that prevents us from being stronger together.

Passionate Woman by AnastassiaArt

Passionate Woman by AnastassiaArt

Listen, my dear sisters.  Whatever you do with your body is your business.  Whatever I do with mine is my business.  Our foremothers fought very hard to give us more sexual freedom than they ever enjoyed, so why destroy that by shaming each other?

We are all just spiritual beings in human form, learning our lessons and doing the best we can on this earthly plane of existence.  How about we make it a little easier on ourselves?

Let us erase “slut” from our vocabulary.  Let us all stop passing judgement upon each other long enough to realize that we are all goddesses.  We are all free to express our wild, juicy selves in whatever way that brings us joy.  We are stronger than the labels history has passed down to us if we choose to be.  Real power and real social status is achieved by women who inspire others and lift them up, not by scared little girls who climb to the top of a ladder by pushing everyone else off.

Blessed Be

Flowing Gracefully

Yoni Mudra by Sofia Minkova

Yoni Mudra by Sofia Minkova

Part of me felt like it’s something I should have gotten over by now…something I should have dealt with and integrated. After all, I turn 40 this year. You would think that after 28 years of monthly cycles, I would be a pro at dealing with all things menstrual.

But how can any woman be totally comfortable with something to which she has never been properly and lovingly introduced? Where was the Red Tent when I was 12 and shackled to a religion that still believes wholeheartedly in Eve’s curse?

I really wanted to make peace with my womb after all this time, so I found a wonderful companion for the journey: The Moon and You: A Woman’s Guide to an Easier Monthly Cycle by Barbara Hanneloré.

Having practiced Wicca for many years, I am always aware of whether the moon is waxing, full, or waning. I usually note the Zodiac sign she’s traveling through as well, but I wasn’t charting my own cycle. I had sort of pushed that aside while I dealt with other matters, but I missed being more connected with Luna and flowing with her each month. I wanted to approach my cycle with more awareness, instead of just getting through it and feeling annoyed at the “intrusion” on my life. Fortunately, The Moon and You provides monthly and annual calendar pages for easy charting. I’ve use the annual calendar for the last seven months, and the insights, both physical and emotional, have been profound.

One of those revelations is that the natural rhythms of my body run parallel with my creative life. The author compares the phases of a woman’s cycle to four seasons, each having its own unique energies and contributions. I began to see a pattern with having lots of new ideas, plans, and accomplishments in the first half of my cycle. Any writing project I attempted just seemed to move along with no resistance. Then I would retreat into a more reflective mode after ovulation. I wasn’t inspired as much. I would spend more time thinking or evaluating and less time doing, but I’m learning to value stillness just as much as activity.

Simply acknowledging where I am in my cycle and what I need at that time has been the greatest step toward feeling balanced and at ease with these ever-changing rhythms. As Hanneloré notes, “The pre-menstrual time is a powerful personal time: visionary, creative, and inwardly focused. This is in direct conflict, of course, with the expectations of modern culture for constant accomplishment, and for women to be always available and accommodating of others” (22).

Whenever I’ve ignored the need to slow down a little, or when I’ve said “yes” to a social engagement against my better judgment, I’ve paid for it with all the classic symptoms of PMS. (I detest that acronym, by the way, and I don’t think of it as a syndrome. It’s simply a reminder to treat myself better).

It’s easy to fool the mind, but never the body and certainly never the womb and second chakra. What we can’t or won’t acknowledge on an emotional level will inevitably find its way to the physical level—until we finally pay attention. Hanneloré’s gentle guidance through this often overlooked aspect of menstruation helps women shine some much-needed light on caring for our inner selves as much as our outer lives.

Part Three of the book addresses nutritional needs, vitamins, supplements, exercise, and alternative therapies. Engines don’t run very well on the wrong type of fuel, and bodies don’t function well on suboptimal diets. Sometimes, having a better cycle may just be a matter of getting a little more of whatever is lacking nutritionally. We really are products of what we eat and how well we maintain ourselves.

Many of my friends are massage therapists, and most do Reiki or some other form of energy balancing as well. All of them will attest to the fact that women are great at talking themselves out of getting the care they need. They will either put everyone and everything else in their lives first, or they feel like they don’t deserve a massage to relax and alleviate pain. I don’t know where we got the idea that suffering is noble. We’re not going to earn a trophy for holding on to whatever is hurting us, and I’m quite certain the world won’t end if we lock the door and soak in the tub for an hour.

That brings me to the next topic in the book, which delves into modern views and attitudes toward menstruation. We have drifted very, very far from how our ancient ancestors thought and felt about a woman’s sacred ability to bring forth new life. Hanneloré points to the way industrialized nations tend to glorify a 24/7 lifestyle in the name of progress and how this impacts the way women are valued: “Since menstruation is not ‘useful’ in the practical sense, what good is it in a culture like this? It slows us down; it’s messy; it can be painful and unpredictable; and modern culture jokes about it, tries to fix it, or ignores it altogether” (115).

Consider some of the slang words used for menstruation: the curse, Aunt Flo, crimson tide, riding the cotton pony, bitch time, the red river, shark week, on the blob, opening the flood gates, etc. All of these derogatory words and phrases (and even the cutesy ones) just illustrate one more way that women have given away power. We don’t have to take this, and we shouldn’t perpetuate it, either. We can reclaim what was lost and set better examples for future generations.

One great way to start is with ceremony. I could write pages on the absence of meaningful ritual in our culture, but I think I’ll save that for another blog post. The final chapter of The Moon and You is about your own initiation into womanhood—how it was handled (or perhaps not even acknowledged) and how you would have preferred to cross that threshold from girl to woman if given a choice in the matter.

Personally, I would have wanted a circle of women around me—strong, wise women all dressed in red who would welcome me with open arms into this new life passage. We would drum and dance around a bonfire. They would anoint me with sacred oil and paint symbols of the Goddess on my forehead and my belly. We would chant songs of power and creation until dawn. They would tell me stories only women know, stories that would become my anchor and my backbone, stories that would carry me through all the births and deaths to come. I would walk into my destiny with a new name and a new song, sure of myself and supported by my tribe.

It’s no mystery to me that girls struggle so much with self-esteem from puberty onward. Without a distinct rite of passage that initiates them into female selfhood and the positive aspects of menstruation, they are left with the media and the dominant views of our culture as teachers—and we know how much damage that has already done. Along with The Moon and You, Hanneloré has also written How to Celebrate Your Daughter’s Coming of Age to help mothers and mentors everywhere. I think we need even more books like this, more open dialogue, and more honest and genuine treatment of all the cycles of a woman’s life.

Looking forward, it’s up to all of us to build a better foundation. We have to heal the wounds within ourselves first, which will have a ripple effect on every generation that follows. Women can begin to support each other through Red Tent circles. We can teach girls to honor and embrace the power in womanhood. We can create new traditions and initiation ceremonies. We can, at last, be the change we wish to see.

Blessed Be.

Hanneloré, Barbara. The Moon and You: A Woman’s Guide to an Easier Monthly Cycle. Goleta, CA: Bell House, 2013. Print.  

http://www.womenswaymooncycles.com/products.html

Imbolc 2014: Fire and Ice

Imbolc is a cross-quarter Sabbat, marking the waning of winter and the earliest stirrings of spring.  The exact cross-quarter point occurs when the sun reaches 15 degrees Aquarius, although it is often celebrated from sundown February 1st to sundown February 2nd.  Many of us are tired of the cold air, weary of being indoors, and we long for light and warmth to carry us through until the sun regains his full strength.  Thus, we honor Brigid, the ancient Celtic goddess of the hearth, at this time of year.  The Celts believed that it was she who wandered over the frozen landscape, melting the ice and snow with her sacred flames to wake the earth again.

The past week brought plenty of wintery weather into the southeastern United States, resulting in traffic woes and emergency situations for many.  Even balmy Savannah got enough ice to shut down some of our bridges and close schools for a couple of days.  The traditional focus of Imbolc is to drive winter away, so perhaps that is more relevant than ever after experiencing harsher conditions and colder temps.  It’s time to light our candles, keep our hearth fires burning, and decorate our altars with flowers that remind us of better days ahead.

Mentally and emotionally, we also shift from the solitude and darkness of the Crone (which is necessary for personal growth) to the energy and enthusiasm of the Maiden (which spurs us to put our plans into action).

I had to smile when I saw the moon phases for Imbolc as well, because she will move from watery Pisces into fiery Aries.  How perfect for Brigid, our goddess of sacred wells and flames.  I love the idea of not only melting physical ice, but also melting the ice that builds up around our hearts.  What conflicts need resolving?  How can I live a more heart-centered life?  What needs to be brought into the light to be healed?  These are the questions I will be pondering as I create my ritual for Imbolc, which will no doubt involve candles and ice cubes.

Brigid is also a goddess of crafts, so I couldn’t let this Sabbat go by without making something in her honor.  Here’s an incense recipe that I tried and liked.  Cedar and pine are clearing, frankincense and orange peel are uplifting, cinnamon gives it just enough heat, and the rose lends a bit of sweetness—altogether perfect for Imbolc.

You’ll need a mortar and pestle to grind the pine and frankincense resins and a grater for the cinnamon sticks and orange peel.  I’ll admit that this incense does take some work and elbow grease, but it’s worth it!  You can dry orange peels in the oven at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they start to curl up.  Then allow them to cool and stiffen before grating.  I obtained pine resin from Shaman’s Market, and I found dried, food grade rose petals from a supplier on Amazon.  Why food grade?  Because the roses you get from floral shops are often sprayed with chemicals to repel bugs, and you don’t want that in your incense.

After you grind and grate all the ingredients, you should have something like this:

Imbolc Incense

Imbolc Incense Ingredients

When you mix all the ingredients, you get a lovely combination of scents and colors:

Imbolc Incense

I recommend storing incense in glass containers.  It keeps better, and it’s a great way to recycle.  I like to save small jars that have an interesting shape and then crochet a pretty cover for the lid.  Here’s the finished product:

Imbolc Incense Stored

Love, light, healing, and peace to all.  Have a blessed Imbolc!

Re-Member

The definition of remember is “to bring to mind or think of again.”  That is what Webster offers, but I see remembering as more than just recalling the past.  It is also recreating.  A member is one part or unit separate from the whole; so, to re-member is to restore that missing part to wholeness.  It is finding what was thought to be lost and building something magical again.

This poem was inspired by La Loba, the old woman who gathers wolf bones and sings them back to life.  It was also inspired by Inanna’s descent to the underworld, as she passes through the Seven Gates that strip her of her power and her life before she is reborn.

The past year was a turbulent time for many, as we faced loss, separation, and challenges from all fronts.  It is time to heal and rely on the truths we know deep down.  We have a New Year and a New Moon in Capricorn to celebrate on this day.  What better time to dig in and lay the groundwork to manifest our dreams?

“Re-Member”

Re-member who you are, beloved,
beneath the grave they dug for you.
Keep going down past the layers
of earth and stone
until you find the bare bones–
and when you do,
learn to love them.
Sing them back to life
until the flesh returns
layer upon layer,
until the eyes are clear
and the hair grows back,
lustrous and full,
and the heart beats
to the rhythm of your soul,
until you can dance in a body
that makes no apology.
Re-member who you are, woman.
~by Jennifer R. Miller (January 1, 2014)