Goddess, Sabbats

Corn Woman’s Wisdom on Lughnasadh

 

There are two predominant themes for Lughnasadh: one is sacrifice, and the other is nourishment. There have been years when sacrifice has shown up stronger for me, when I’ve had to give up something or become more aware of when I’m being a martyr. This year, however, Goddess is asking me to look harder at how well I nourish myself on the most basic level: with food.

I am not a foodie, though there are times when I wish I could be one. Eating is something I do to live, but I don’t live to eat. When I’m overly stressed, I’ll skip meals or eat sparingly. Some people are stress eaters, but I’m more of a stress starver. Nothing kills my appetite faster than anxiety or depression. Most of the time, I cruise along on an even keel. If someone is rude or cuts me off in traffic, it’s no big deal. I can let that small stuff go. I don’t surround myself with drama, so my everyday life is generally calm and peaceful. I’ve worked hard to create an environment that supports, rather than siphons.

Throw in a major stressor like a death in the family or moving, however, and I’m turning green at the gills over just the smell of food cooking. Then all my healthy meal planning goes out the window, and I’m just trying to choke down a Saltine cracker to keep body and soul together. It’s frustrating, especially for a Virgo. We’re supposed to be the health nuts of the Zodiac, right?

So when I drew a card from The Goddess Oracle on the New Moon in Leo, and Corn Woman showed up in all of her grain-abundant glory, my first thought was: fuck. My next thought was: how can I possibly eat well and nourish myself when I’m still mourning the loss of my beloved canine and familiar? On top of losing Baxter just one week prior, I was still adjusting to life in a new place. I felt thoroughly wrung out in mind, body, and spirit, as though part of me had simply left this world along with my dog. I didn’t have a manual that said: How to Eat When You’re Grieving and You Don’t Know a Soul in Town. Someone should create one, though.

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The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky. Illustrated by Hrana Janto.

What I did have was Corn Woman staring at me from my altar, gently but firmly reminding me that I can’t ignore the basics of life and expect to feel better on any level. Of course it would be corn. I mean, you normally see wheat fields associated with Lughnasadh, but that’s Europe. This is south Alabama, and we have corn, which functions as both grain when it’s dry and vegetable when it’s fresh. It’s also extremely abundant at this time of year. The message was getting louder and clearer: foundation, staple, plain, essential, sustenance. I didn’t need to become a gourmet overnight, but I would have to find a way to love myself better with the simple abundance that Mother Earth provides.

I began with questions, which is the starting point for any type of change and course correction. What am I resisting? What don’t I like about the whole cycle of procuring, preparing, and eating food? We have it much easier than our ancestors, after all. I can cook, thanks to a mom who cared enough to teach me how. Other people practically get off on being in the kitchen, so why doesn’t it excite me? More to the point, why is eating and nourishment the first thing I drop when life gets excruciatingly painful?

Biologically, it’s fight or flight. All my body knows is that it’s facing some sort of crisis. It can’t distinguish between an emotional trauma and a physical attack. It’s programmed not to waste time digesting when survival means getting out of town or fighting to the death. After four decades on this planet, it still doesn’t know that it won’t actually die from a broken heart.

I’ve learned a few techniques for calming the fight or flight response through meditation and energy medicine, but resilience isn’t built overnight. It takes years of consistently applying those practices, and I certainly haven’t mastered them yet.

Spiritually, I prefer to focus on ‘higher’ things. I think it would be fantastic if we could live on air and gain back all the time we spend on food (spoken like one ruled by Mercury!) Eating brings me down to the mundane level, and I don’t always enjoy being there. It feels dense, heavy, and slow. It forces me to be in touch with my body and its needs, instead of floating around in my upper chakras where I’m more comfortable. People often describe me as grounded, but what they don’t know is that I can appear to be Zen on the outside even when I’m dying on the inside. I come from a long line of stoics, and they taught me too well, unfortunately.

Feeling truly grounded takes more work and more willingness on my part to really be in those lower chakras, and that is where I meet my resistance every time a major crisis comes up. I don’t want to be in my body while I’m processing a ton of grief and pain, but abandoning it doesn’t work, either. It just results in feeling weaker and less able to handle the situation that surrounds me.

Corn Woman symbolizes true nourishment, and that means feeding the soul and the body. It is the time spent in the circle, the trance, or the vision quest… and it is the feast afterward to ground and center oneself in this world. No matter how high and far our spirits may travel, we must return to this earth walk, even when it hurts, until our time here has ended.

The lesson is a hard one, and I will most likely be examining my complicated relationship with food for quite some time. Still, I’m grateful for Lughnasadh, for the turning of the wheel, for life, for the first harvest, for the bountiful earth, and for Corn Woman’s wisdom. May we all be well nourished.

Blessed Be

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.

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Empowerment, Goddess

Goddesses Don’t Wear Bras

 

Friends, it’s hotter than Brigid’s forge in lower Alabama, so I’ve been going sans bra as much as possible. It’s ridiculous to be layered when atmospheric conditions are at rain forest levels. If it would not result in arrest, I’d probably go around naked through the Dog Days of summer. Since public nudity isn’t an option, I can at least shed my bra.

If you trace the word brassiere to its Old French origin, it means armor or “a protector for the arm.” I’m not going into battle, so why do I need “armor” for my breasts? Why does any woman? What are we protecting our breasts from, or rather, why is the world still so concerned with the appearance of breasts that we spend $16 billion on bras annually? Such a waste of funds!

When I look at ancient statues of goddesses, so many of them are bare breasted. Consider the Venus of Willendorf, or Astarte, or the Minoan Snake Goddess…I could go on. All of them reflect eras when the life-giving, nurturing aspect of the Goddess was honored. Breasts were powerful, not just sexual. They represented fertility, sustenance, and abundance of the land and its people. Goddesses don’t wear bras. The very idea would be insulting.

Today, breasts are hypersexualized, objectified, and somewhat divorced from their main function. Ask any woman who has breastfed her child, and she will describe the challenges of doing this in public without feeling shamed and judged. Society is much too worried about the appearance of a woman’s nipples, despite the fact men have them, too.

How far we have fallen from our matriarchal roots.

When I posted about bra hatred on my personal Facebook page, several friends raised their virtual hands in agreement. We discussed the fact that even when we go braless, we often resort to hacks like covering our nipples with those nifty circular Band-Aids if we’re wearing tight clothing. So even if our breasts are freed from the underwire cage, our nipples might still be muffled under cheap adhesive bandages or nude-colored pasties. Why? Because we feel self-conscious. Our culture has made us believe that if our breasts bounce and our nipples show, we will be considered loose and immoral. We’ve been trained to avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention, lest we be assaulted, raped, or killed.

Yes, trained—and it all begins with the training bra we’re told to wear at the first signs of sexual development. Think about it. Who or what is being trained? Are we training our breasts to get used to the bra, or are we training ourselves to conform to a social standard that we didn’t even set? I remember asking my mom for one, because all the other girls in school were beginning to wear them. I was beginning to feel self-conscious without a bra, which shows just how much pressure girls are under to conform. The message we internalize is that there is something much too vulgar and tempting about breasts, so they must be hidden under double layers of fabric. We carry that message our whole lives, unless we consciously work to reclaim our natural beauty and worth. Reaching way back into our collective memory and connecting with the Goddess is a doorway to the process of reclaiming our selfhood.

Thankfully, some wonderful teachers and empowerment coaches are now actively assisting in the work of showing us better ways to appreciate and work with our bodies. Saida Desilets, Ph.D., creator of the Taoist-based Jade Goddess teachings, describes the energetic quality of breasts in this way:

Our breasts are considered our love center because they sit on either side of our heart and represent the external expression of our heart chi. Chi naturally flows from our heart center out into the world. Our breasts have long been a symbol for nurturing and loving energy. They also hold the secret to our longevity. (206)

Susun Weed, herbalist and author of The Wise Woman Way, also speaks of the power we hold in our breasts:

We are the Ancient GrandMothers and our breasts are ancient. Perhaps you find them ugly. See how they drift yearningly toward the Earth, lower with every passing year. We smile knowingly; we know our breasts contain a power that is resilient, flexible, supple, easy, and impossible to restrain. Whether the whim of fashion says our breasts are to be large or small, pointed or flattened, with cleavage or without, padded or bound, accented or obscured, it matters not to us. Our breasts fall free, untouched by current notions. The power of our breasts is the power of life.

Yet, we block and constrict that power, and we’ve been doing so for the last 500 years since the introduction of the corset.

I have this fantasy that women all over the globe will join together in a Bra Burning Day. I see us all flinging off our constricting garments of torture and dancing around the flames, never looking back. I see men there with us, drumming in the outer circle, supporting us lovingly and committing to the work of demolishing the old paradigms.

May we unlearn the rules imposed upon us by earlier generations that were ruled by fear and shame. May we nourish our breasts with freedom of movement, healthy relationships, massage, good nutrition, and a positive self-image. May we remember that we are the reflections of the goddesses of old, who are still alive and within us now, calling forth our courage and our love.

So Mote It Be

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.


Désilets, Saida. Emergence of the Sensual Woman: Awakening Our Erotic Innocence. Kihei, HI: Jade Goddess Publishing, 2006. Print.

Weed, Susun S. “Ancient Breasts.” Wise Woman Herbal Ezine, www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/February09/breasthealth.htm. Accessed 14 July 2017.

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Goddess, Healing, Rituals, Witchcraft

When a Witch Doesn’t Feel Like Witching

 

I spent most of 2015 grieving the loss of my mother. The following year was consumed with celebrity deaths, the election, and a general feeling of malaise and anxiety over what lay ahead, both politically and personally. It was supposed to be a year of recovery for me, a year to get my groove back…except it wasn’t coming back so easily. It was sort of inching back like a snail on a Hosta leaf.

Enter 2017. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion at first, and then it sprinted forward in May. Suddenly, my husband has a fantastic new job, and we’re hopping one state over to Alabama. As I’m writing this piece, the movers are filling cardboard boxes with all our worldly goods. I am parked on the patio, preferring the company of my dog, the songbirds, and the rhythmic sounds of Layne Redmond’s Hymns from the Hive.

Instead of focusing on the move, I’m thinking about my spiritual practice and how it has fallen into what can only be described as a slump. I am a witch who has not felt like witching. Other than my daily Tarot draw, I don’t do much. I’ve allowed Sabbats to go by with a yawn. I’ve acknowledged the moon through astrology reports more than I’ve gone outside to soak up her soft, comforting rays. Candles remain unlit and stored away. Crystals stay in a lovely wooden box that a dear friend gave to me years ago for my birthday—it even has an image of the wolf goddess Lupa on the top. There are reminders like that everywhere, symbols of the Divine Mother’s love and strength, but I walk by them as though they are shrouded in mist.

 Rather than chastising myself, I’m looking deeply into why I haven’t felt inspired. Why do any of us turn away from our rituals when life gets nasty and we actually need them the most?

Weeks pass. The move is complete. Now I sit here on a rainy morning in a new room with a new desk in a new town, still looking, still questioning. Honestly, I have felt somewhat annoyed with one aspect of Goddess spirituality, particularly the intense focus on self-improvement that continues to mushroom. If I could roll my eyes any harder, they would slide right down my back.

For all the attempts to build women up and make us feel that yes, we are goddesses incarnate dammit, there’s also an assumption that we’re quite flawed and in need of fixing…and there’s plenty of money to be made from women who desperately want to be fixed. All of that makes my hackles go up. I’m baring my teeth, and this is my low growl that says, “Back the fuck off. I’m not buying, because the Goddess is not for sale…and by the way, I’m not broken.”

The problem with having your spiritual nose planted so deeply in your own ass is that you’re constantly in a state of “healing.” I’ve been there, and it’s exhausting. You bounce from one program or one ideology to another. You think that you’ll get out there and make a difference as soon as you finish cleaning up the shit from your childhood and your bad relationships and your grief and all the rest of the baggage you’ve been hauling around for eons. Here’s a hard truth: that day won’t ever come. You’ll never feel so perfectly “healed” that fairy dust exudes from your pores and rainbows shoot from your nipples straight to the heavens. Don’t use that as an excuse to avoid making your own unique contribution to the betterment of humanity. Have you looked around? No one is levitating off the floor, are they? You’re as good as anyone else. We can’t afford to be so inwardly focused that we don’t see what is needed in our own communities and the world at large.

Here’s a little story about that from my own dusty archives. I once practiced with a circle of women that really got into prosperity magic, which could be defined as rituals designed to bring about financial gain. Granted, this was about the time The Secret came out, so a lot of people were convinced that they could have wealth beyond their wildest dreams if they could just think positively, create vision boards, write themselves fake checks for a million bucks, and repeat a shit-ton of affirmations in the mirror every morning. I give that book about as much credence as the cow patties in the pasture down the road. Actually, the cow patties are useful as manure and do serve a purpose, which is more than I can say about The Secret.

Anyway, one member of the women’s circle finally began to question why we weren’t doing rituals that focused on world peace, healing the environment, equal rights for the oppressed, and so forth. After all, this is what the earlier Dianic covens did, and their political activism made an impact. She was beginning to see that prosperity for one is good, but prosperity for all is better. We were raising energy strictly for our own purposes, when we could have made it broader and more meaningful. Not surprisingly, things began to shift in a more positive direction for me when this group dissolved, and I went my own way.

I may be tired after all that has transpired the past couple of years, but I’m not defeated. I’m looking at everything with a very skeptical eye, and I believe this is healthy. I need to question my role, my path, and my focus. So forgive me if I don’t become positively rhapsodic about writing up a wish list for the full moon or a banishing list for the dark moon. Forgive me if my cauldron stays empty right now. If and when my witchy practice returns, it will have to encompass a lot more than personal transformation. It will have to reach wider, dig deeper, and feel truer.

Blessed Be

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.

Goddess, Moon, Rituals

Is the Moon the New “It Girl”?

I never imagined I’d see the day when the moon became trendy.

In the early days of my witchy explorations, I had to learn about working with the lunar phases from books and from other witches. There were websites, but the Internet was young and barely crawling at dial-up speed. It was hardly worth the trouble to do a search, because a lot of the material had been plagiarized or bastardized in some way. If you wanted original content about anything related to witchcraft, you still had to seek out a metaphysical bookstore, find a local discussion group, and/or join a coven that offered instruction, degrees, initiation, and so forth. It required more effort. You had to actually get off your ass to go meet real people and do real things. There was no social media to hide behind in the cozy comfort of your living room. Ah, those were the days!

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Flash-forward to the present, and you can find tons of articles on how to do just about anything in accordance with the moon’s phases, along with Facebook groups, infographics, webinars, YouTube videos, downloadable classes, and probably more Digital Age tools that I haven’t even discovered yet. I’m not dissing them entirely, since I use many of them myself.

Still, who knew that our Lady Luna would become so popular with the tech-savvy, even among those who don’t necessarily walk the path of the witch? The moon is, dare I say, hot right now—and she gets shit done, or at least you would think so by the number of hits she receives on Google.

Advice on manifesting and releasing with the moon is trending hardest, and why not? It seems we are always trying to pull something into our lives or banish it for good, and the moon’s constant waxing and waning matches our desire for an in-flow or an out-flow of energy. Witches and priestesses have known and honored this magick for ages, but now it’s a thing…a tool…a shiny New Age toy (long, exasperating sigh).

As women, we feel (or have felt) this ebb and flow in our bodies most keenly with menstruation. We know the art of creating and letting go quite well. I am told that the feeling of building and emptying is still there even after menopause. We never really stop cycling with the moon. Blood or no blood, womb or no womb, our connection with that pale, luminous orb is never severed. Yet, we have become so detached in a collective sense that working with Luna’s energy seems new and hip. This saddens me, and it also makes me want to clarify some things I’ve learned about moon magick, lest it become just another hipster fad.

First, I see any type of lunar ritual as a catalyst. Whether we’re burying something in the earth to manifest a dream or burning a list of what we want to release, we’re asking for change. We are opening the door to people, circumstances, and divine messages that will bring about the transformations we desire…and we have no idea what any of that will look or feel like. Trusting that whatever does come is for our highest good is an act of faith, pure and simple.

Second, results are rarely instantaneous. The moon doesn’t work like a child’s wishlist for Santa. We may have several blocks to prosperity that have to be worked out over weeks, months, or even years before a dream can be realized. Coming up against those blocks isn’t exactly fun, but a new moon prosperity ritual will certainly highlight every single one of them. Dealing with our own resistance clears the way for growth and abundance.

It’s the same with releasing. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve seen that advise writing down what you want to release and then burning it on the dark moon. It can be cathartic to watch a ton of emotional baggage go up in smoke. I’ve done it myself plenty of times. Fire purifies like nothing else. Just don’t be fooled into thinking that years of encrusted fear, shame, and self-loathing will vanish instantly in the flames. It doesn’t. What happens is that we are provided with opportunities to heal those wounds.

Whether we’re drawing something toward us or letting it go, we still have to do the work. Goddess never lets us avoid that, but She doesn’t abandon us, either.

Trendy or not, I’m grateful that the moon is slowly returning to her rightful, honorable place in the spiritual lives of women after being shunned and feared for so long. She has always been a symbol of all that is feminine, mysterious, and magickal. May we be ever mindful of how we work with her energy and what she can teach us with every cycle.

Blessed Be

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.

Goddess, Poetry

Cauldron of Cerridwen

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“Cerridwen” from Fées et Déesses, by Erlé Ferronnière

I am at ease in your velvety darkness
that covers and heals me
in places the light cannot reach,
because I am much too weary now
for all that blinding brightness.

Under the supple, lustrous rays of the moon,
I stare into the swirling black void
of the cauldron that you stir and stir,
seeing the eons pass behind and before me,
giving myself, once again,
to your magick of transformation.

I have died so many times,
so many lives, so many selves,
eternally decaying and rebirthing,
as the never-ending spiral
pulls inward and spins outward.

What shall we create this time, Dark Mother?
What shall bubble up from the detritus?

I hold nothing back from you,
White Sow, Shape-shifter,
Keeper of Knowledge and Inspiration.
All that I am is yours,
as it ever has been
and ever shall be.

Copyright © 2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.

Goddess, Mythology

Laughing Out Loud: Goddesses of Mirth and Revelry

I remember chatting with a friend at a coffee shop after a period of intense cosmic energy that had left us a bit flabbergasted. We were getting mighty tired of feeling like pinballs in the inscrutable game of life, and both of us were wondering when things were going to feel lighter, easier, or at least not quite so darn Saturn-ish.

“Is there a goddess of laughter? Because I need that one!” she said.

“Actually, there is! Look up Baubo,” I said. “She’s a Greek goddess who rules laughter and all things crass and unmentionable.”

I hadn’t studied much about Baubo up to that point—I just knew she was the goddess in the Eleusinian mysteries who made Demeter cackle so much that she ceased mourning for her daughter Persephone. This was no small act, considering that the Earth was suffering under an endless winter without Demeter’s attention. Restoring her spirit gave her the courage she needed to secure Persephone’s release from Hades, thereby allowing spring to enliven and quicken the land again. Powerful magick, indeed.

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Greek terra-cotta figurine of Baubo holding a lyre.

Laughter is good medicine, and Baubo is the queen of deep belly laughs, dirty jokes, and unbridled sexuality. I would compare her to Mae West or Amy Schumer. She is a goddess who speaks directly from her genitals, and your approval is neither sought nor required. Precious little survives of her likeness and her story, but the unearthed figurines of her depict either her face in her belly with the vulva forming her chin or an exaggerated vulva between her legs. Whatever she was hiding under her skirt certainly gave Demeter the giggles.

If you invite Baubo into your life, be prepared to find humor in just about everything, to laugh until your sides hurt, to flaunt your fabulous self, and to stop apologizing for being “too much” for the curmudgeons. If they can’t laugh along with you, dear one, it’s their loss.

Another goddess who gives no fucks is Uzume (pronounced oo-zoo-may) from Japanese mythology. She is a shaman goddess who found herself in a similar role to Baubo as court jester, clown, and one who saves the day through raffish humor.

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Uzume, from The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky

As the story goes, Amaterasu, the life-giving, compassionate goddess of the Sun, had hidden herself in a cave. She was severely depressed and grieving over the violent actions of her brother, Susano-o. He was quite jealous of her power, so he went on a rampage, slaughtered a young horse (a sacred animal to the goddess), and threw its carcass into her weaving room. He destroyed her looms, ruined all of the valuable fabric, and terrified all of the women who were working there at the time. In some versions of the story, he kills all of the attendants and wounds Amaterasu as well.

Her refusal to come out of the cave after this episode was beginning to distress all of the other gods and goddesses. The rice fields were dying, and the situation was getting desperate. They had tried to lure her out with no success, and then Uzume showed up at the cave entrance. She begins by looking quite serious and refined and then proceeds to lift her kimono for a frenzied, erotic dance that made all the assembled deities howl with laughter. When Amaterasu became curious enough to venture outside, the others sealed the cave so she could not return. Balance was restored to the land once again by a goddess who understood the power of comedy.


So here we are about halfway through a Mercury retrograde, and I know it’s eclipse season, and the Equinox is less than two weeks away, and the holidays are coming, and the election is looming, and the world is exploding, and Winter is coming…yeah, I get that.

But laugh. Really. Find some cat videos on YouTube. Go see some live stand-up comedy. Check out the People of Walmart. Do whatever it takes to laugh so damn hard that tears roll down your face, and ask Baubo and Uzume to help you.

Blessed Be

Copyright © 2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Goddess, Rituals, Wicca

Reclaiming Ecstatic Ritual

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“The Youth of Bacchus” by William Adolphe Bouguereau

We drank the wine, and broke the bread,
And ate it in the Old One’s name.
We linked our hands to make the ring,
And laughed and leaped the Sabbat game.

Oh, little do the townsfolk reck,
When dull they lie within their bed!
Beyond the streets, beneath the stars,
A merry round the witches tread!

from The Witch’s Ballad by Doreen Valiente

People assume a lot about witches and pagans, and much of it springs from the fanciful pages of gothic and paranormal fiction. Sometimes I really wish I could be at least half of all the things they imagine, but I daresay that most would find my witchy life quite mundane in comparison.

Many moons ago (I’m not going to say exactly how many), when I began testing the uncharted heathen waters, I found divided camps. Now, keep in mind that I was exploring paganism in the southeastern U.S., and many witches here (self included) were brought up in extremely conservative, fundamentalist churches. On one side of the pagan fence, I found those who practiced a freewheeling, skyclad (sans clothing) version of Wicca. On the other side of the fence, I found those who preferred to stay fully robed and far, far away from anything resembling an unbridled, ecstatic rite.

It was a bit confusing. Did we not leave the repressive church to experience something different? Were we simply trading one dogma for another?

I began circling with all-female groups, mostly because I had heard stories about lecherous male pagans and high priests who insisted on sexual initiations for female coven members. That sort of thing tended to get my feminist hackles up, as I did not want to be in yet another situation where men had ultimate power and women were subservient. Looking back, I wonder if there was even a kernel of truth in any of those stories. I’ve met precious few men in the pagan world, but most have been kind, strong and deeply respectful of women as the embodiment of the Goddess. Had the patriarchy infiltrated so deeply into paganism, or was it all just a projection of deep-seated fears that women have carried for millennia?

Most of what we knew, or thought we knew, about covens came from British Traditional Wicca. When I review the works of Valiente, the Farrars, and other witches who were writing and publishing throughout the 1970s, it seems as though their ideas were somewhat diluted in the crossing of the Atlantic to America. Perhaps it’s because they landed on Puritanical soil, which wasn’t quite ready and willing to receive them.

What I love most about these foundational writings is that they address sexual polarity and how central it is to Wiccan philosophy and practice. There is always a High Priestess and a High Priest, serving in equality, as representatives of the Goddess and God. The balance and beauty of that is undeniable.

Early covens also adopted ritual nudity in order to be completely free of the notion that the body is profane, to rise above ego and persona, and to increase psychic power and awareness. Perhaps this was partly inspired by the sexual revolution of that era as well, but even so, they were tapping into something ancient and transformative. The poetry and passion in their rituals, indicative in the High Priest’s invocation below, is deeply moving.

Altar of mysteries manifold,
The sacred Circle’s secret point—
Thus do I sign thee as of old,
With kisses of my lips anoint.
Open for me the secret way,
The pathway of intelligence,
Beyond the gates of night and day,
Beyond the bounds of time and sense.
Behold the mystery aright—
The five true points of fellowship…
Here where the Lance and Grail unite,
And feet, and knees, and breast, and lip.
(written by Doreen Valiente)

Fast forward 30 years, and you would see a plethora of books on Wicca and witchcraft, but you would find only the barest hints of erotic mysticism within their pages. Skyclad covens were getting seedy reputations, whether they deserved them or not. Sabbat rituals were becoming short, saccharine, and whitewashed of anything that might offend tender sensibilities. More’s the pity.

You would also find female centric covens that worshipped the Goddess while stripping away her sexual nature. The male aspect of divinity was, at best, a mere consort who sat politely in the background, waiting to be called forth like a faithful hound. It was a clear backlash against the patriarchy, as women rediscovered their power, the Goddess within, and Her awakening presence in the world. The only problem is that the Goddess isn’t singular or chaste as the Virgin Mary. She is Shakti…always cavorting and co-creating with Shiva. I am a great proponent of women’s circles and women’s mysteries, but only if we extend that healing outward to include the sacred masculine from which we are never separate.

Deep within, I believe all human beings have a natural craving for ecstatic ritual, but how often do we ever really let go and surrender to such power? All of the poetry, the pageantry, and the ritual nudity that characterized Wicca’s beginnings were just ways of getting above the mental blocks that keep us rooted in a third dimension reality. In a world that is fraught with so much sexual wounding, can we step through our shadows long enough to feel the light? How do we reclaim ecstasy in a way that honors the gods and the highest self?

I may be an idealistic witch, but I believe we reclaim it by owning our stories, standing in our power, honoring our bodies in whatever way we choose, embracing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, building circles of trust, daring to be vulnerable, stripping off our barriers (and perhaps our clothing), dancing wildly, drumming passionately, loving deeply, and becoming the alchemists of a New Age.

So Mote It Be

Copyright ©2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved. 

Goddess

The Goddess as Challenger

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The great traditions of the goddess emphasize her overwhelming power, but call us to love her. Not in spite of her power, but because of it. Not in spite of death, but because of life. It is not easy to travel on the path of the goddess, but once her challenges are met, life is filled with unimaginable sweetness. -Patricia Monaghan, The Goddess Companion

Finding the Goddess can feel like coming home, like being nurtured and loved at last after so many years of searching for…belonging? acceptance? something that honors the feminine in a world that has glorified the masculine? I remember that feeling. After suffering through a patriarchal Baptist upbringing, the Goddess was like a cool drink of water from a sacred well. Here I was free to be entirely myself. Here my gifts were acknowledged, even celebrated. Here I found sisters (and a few brothers) who were cut from the same cloth.

I exhaled…releasing the poisonous vapors of original sin, menstrual shame, sexual repression, and misogyny. I inhaled the truth of the soul’s incorruptible perfection, my sacred blood, second chakra liberation, and an abiding, fierce love of myself as a woman and representation of She Who Is. There was no going back. Even if I had wanted to retrace my steps, She would have corrected my course again. The Goddess is tolerant of many things, but playing small is not one of them.

She loves us, feeds us until we’re strong again, and then kicks us right out of the nest when the time is right, like any strong, wise mother would do.

I’m reminded of these brilliant lines by Erin Hanson:

There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?

She knows the only way we’ll find out is if we step right up to the edge of our comfort zone and swan dive into a future we cannot see. Sometimes we are gently nudged. Sometimes we are shoved.

Gentle nudging is when the same message keeps showing up in different ways. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take up pottery, but you keep talking yourself out of signing up for a class. You’re too busy. You’re not even artistic. You might be a terrible potter, and all that money would be wasted. But then a flyer shows up in the mail about a pottery class in your town. You flip open a magazine, and there’s an article about the therapeutic effects of working with clay. You’re surfing through channels, and there’s a documentary about famous women potters. That’s a nudge. That’s the Goddess saying, “Take the class already, and quit making excuses. How many messages do I really need to send?”

Getting shoved is when you ignore all of those messages, deny your inner calling, and then chaos arrives. You break a finger through some unfortunate accident. Now your hand is useless for a while. So while your bones are healing and you are cursing the annoying splint you have to wear, you wish like hell that you had gone to that pottery class last weekend while you still had two perfectly intact hands. Ouch.

Thus, my second major awakening to the Goddess was discovering that She is both the Benevolent Mother and the Challenger. (Well, hello there Kali Ma, Morrighan, Hecate, Baba Yaga…and all others who have taught me so much while kicking my butt at the same time).

Challengers question things and create opposition in order to force some growth. They swoop in and utterly destroy anything that has gone way past its expiration date. It’s part of their job. They clean shit up, and you won’t always like their methods. It’s not like a quick Saturday morning dusting and vacuuming. Nope. It’s more like taking a bulldozer to the whole house and starting over with a new foundation.

They want the real you…minus all the false walls you’ve erected and the useless objects that weigh you down. You know what I’m talking about: the job that still sux no matter how many positive affirmations you’ve stuck on the mirror, the relationship that doesn’t work no matter how much counseling you’ve tried, and the friends that are beginning to feel more like frenemies. That stuff will devour you from the inside out, and it would be a travesty if you exit this life before accomplishing all the amazing things you came here to do.

Goddess knows this far better than you can imagine, which is why she shows up as Challenger with sword in hand (or wrecking ball), poised and ready to rearrange your life and priorities. The truth is that we just don’t have a lot of time to waste on being meek, mild, and mediocre. The world needs repair, and we are the bandages, my friends. So if Goddess is showing you some tough love right now, know that it is because you are worthy and those natural gifts you’ve been hiding are extraordinary. Claim them. Use them. Start from the fresh, fertile ground she has leveled for you. Grow something that will benefit the seventh generation and beyond. I believe in you.

Blessed Be

© 2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.

Goddess, Nature, Poetry, Sabbats

Invitation to the Wild Man

 

I have written quite a bit on the Wild Woman, as many of us are reclaiming our wildness in the truest definition of the word: living in a state of nature; not tamed or domesticated. Now that we are on the astrological date of Beltane, my thoughts turned more toward Wild Woman’s counterpart, the Wild Man. I felt that if she were extending an invitation for revelry and ecstasy on this ancient festival of flames and fertility, it might go something like this…

I want all of your wildness,
your gritty, earthy rawness,
your unleashed primal howl.

I want the sharp, muskiness of your sweat,
the sweetness of honey wine on your lips,
the smell of forest and loam in your unkempt hair.

I want the roughness of your sundrenched skin,
the sound of your heart like a ritual drum,
the heat of your body like a blazing torch.

I want the dark, unexplored depths of your eyes,
the hard sinuous muscle encasing your bones,
the blood rushing through every vein and artery.

I want all of your wildness,
your gritty, earthy rawness,
your unleashed primal howl.

Copyright © 2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.