spirituality

Day 6: Birth/Death/Rebirth (#30daysofspring)

Scatter my ashes on the tree covered hills March 2016 022
Let my bones come to rest on these stones
Raindrops will come to carry me away
Back to the Fire of All.*

At sunset, I headed to the woods with my drum. I had been thinking about the course prompts for day 6 and found myself singing the little song above. On the way, I stopped to look at the magnolia tree that we planted in memory of my third baby, who died in my second trimester of pregnancy. His death-birth, my hemorrhage and hospital transfer after his birth, and the intense walk through grief that followed, was my death-life-rebirth experience that I’ve written about before–as well as a shamanic initiation into my priestess path and my dedication to the Goddess. His memorial tree is beginning to bud.

After my drum time in the woods, I turned to go back in and looked up to see many buds on the wild plum that was damaged last year and that I feared would not survive. Through its branches, the bright crescent return of the moon…March 2016 023

Unfathomable eons
Glacier time
I am just a blink of an eye
But I can sit, and watch, and wonder.

(*I realized the next morning that my little tune was similar to Kellianna’s Warrior Queen song. **This is actually my writing from March 14)

Categories: #30daysofspring, ceremony, chants, death, drums, endarkenment, moon wisdom, music, nature, night, poems, practices, prayers, pregnancy loss, priestess, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, theapoetics, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Day 5: Planted, Struggling, Growing (#30daysofspring)

March 2016 153My friend made this meme for me last month using a quote originally part of a blog post I wrote called Thealogy of the Ordinary, and later used in my Earthprayer book. I thought it was perfect for today*!

Had a truly beautiful day of ceremony and restoration today. I keep trying to take a “day off” and totally failing. Today made up for it as well as reminded me why I can NOT accept letting go of my personal magic in order to “get things done.” Went on a mystical morning walk into the deep woods with my husband and our youngest child. Did a sacred bathing ceremony of renewal for myself. Then, did a lunar priestess ritual in my tiny temple, but invited my husband to participate. We meditated, passed the rattle, chanted, did some candle work, and then listened to a shamanic drum journey together. I didn’t see a lot visually during the journey, but I did have really dramatic physical sensations around my forehead, the top of my head, and my “third eye” as well as hearing flute music (in addition to the drum, even though there was only a drum!)

March 2016 131I feel I have been VERY close to the edge of total burnout and perhaps something bad happening (health-wise) to me lately. I’m so happy to be happy again today!

I finished three intense projects and went on a big vacation as well as finished up a class (including final paper grading, etc.) what seemed like all at once and I feel like I dipped too far into my “reserve” energy and even went beyond it in order to get it all done. Very depleted. I also noticed it helps to acknowledge: “yes, it makes sense that you feel depleted. That was a LOT to do. It’s okay that you feel that way.” I think I had been feeling annoyed with myself for feeling depleted or like I “shouldn’t” feel that way!

Anyway, a little dedicated attention to my own renewal goes a long way! I will not neglect it again.

March 2016 141

(*actually from March 13)

Categories: #30daysofspring, ceremony, drums, family, practices, priestess, retreat, ritual, sacred pause, seasons, self-care, spirituality, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Darkly, Richly

February 2016 013“…Look at me
I am not a separate
woman
I am a continuance
of blue sky
I am the throat
of the Sandia Mountains
A night wind woman
who burns
with every breath
she takes.”

–Joy Harjo in Open Mind

The line about the night wind woman captivated me when I first read it and it still does. I’m not sure why. I’m not entirely sure what a “night wind woman” is, but I think I am one. I used the line in the poem I open the Womanrunes book with as well, originally writing it to go with the Crescent Moon rune.

Coincidentally, right at the same time we hit the “night wind” quote in the Womanspirit mini class, we have a new Crescent Moon/New Moon layout available on our site: Crescent Moon Layout for the New Moon!

I am getting ready for a trip and having trouble allowing myself the space for self-care and rest, so I need a little reminder to spend some time in the dark and rich during this new moon cycle.

This week, I was working on some materials for my upcoming priestess class and I found another quote I had saved that connects to all these themes:

“Invite the inner woman to speak in her language of poetry, bones, clouds, dreams, red shoes, fairy dust, ravens, and fissures of the heartland. She who dwells in the wild within will help to navigate the cliffs and valleys. She will show you the passage through – give you eyes to see in the dark. And then, when you are able, she will give you wings to fly out from that both nurturing and devastating abyss into divine light.”

–Shiloh Sophia McCloud

February 2016 124

Categories: dreams, endarkenment, moon wisdom, night, poems, prayers, priestess, programs, quotes, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, Womanrunes, womanspirit | 2 Comments

New Practical Priestessing Program

Our new Womanspirit Initiation program in practical priestessing begins on the Spring Equinox! I’m really thrilled IMG_0050to do this. Since it is the inaugural offering of this program, I’m offering an “early bird” registration option until February 15th. There are 19 spaces currently available in the training.

I’ve been working on my dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the US for a long time and it has deep roots in my passion for priestessing as real work, not a self-empowerment buzzword. While I’m a huge fan of self-empowerment, I also adore practical priestessing–what does doing this work look like? I call it “Candle Wax Priestessing,” based in quote from Ruth Barrett who said:

What is your motivation for leadership? The title of Priestess sounds mystical, powerful, and conjures up fantasy images of flowing robes, crescent tiaras, charged magical tools at your fingertips, and rooms full of chanting, awe-eyed devotees lingering on your every muse-inspired word. You dispense wisdom directly from the Goddess Herself, channeled in perfection to the unquestioning multitudes that wait and depend on your guidance.

If that’s your vision, get another hobby. The reality is this: you will be the last one left in the rented hall, scraping candle-wax droppings off the floor with a razor blade…

While it sounds “mundane” and even a little harsh, at the core, my research is focused on these Candle Wax Priestesses. Anyone can say, “I’m a priestess,” but when the wax actually hits the floor, who is there? That’s the crux of it; the differentiation between “title” and practice. The difference between inner activation and outer vocation. I’m not talking about pop culture priestesses or “High Priestess of sales conversion” manuals, I’m talking about candle wax. I’m talking about toting tubs of supplies, I’m talking about making copies, and picking dates, and writing rituals, and doing this…

This program is more than just a class, it is a process of discovery, preparation, and initiation. What does it involve to do womanspirit priestess work in a variety of settings, including women’s spirituality circles, seasonal ceremonies, family celebrations, rites of passage ceremonies, rituals, and retreats? That’s what we’ll uncover, explore, and share together! Of course, we’ll also create plenty of magic and deep, transformative personal experiences, it isn’t all about candle wax! You also get a fabulous resource kit of real supplies, including a brand new spiral goddess sculpture in deep purple.

These questions of candle wax priestessing connected deeply with the priestesses in the research group, with many sharing stories of candle-wax, or accidental fire, related experiences. One of my own moments was when I beat out the flames on the altar table with my sandal while wearing my baby daughter in a pouch on my chest while working in Brigid’s Temple at the Gaea Goddess Gathering in Kansas.

Womanspirit Initiation is a sister program to the Red Tent journey I offer (and love!). I think it is funny that I developed the priestess course second, because I’ve been planning and facilitating women’s rituals and retreats for many more years than I have been facilitating Red Tents, but that is how it emerged! I explore some of the differences between the two programs in this post: What is the difference between a Red Tent and a Women’s Circle?

If you are currently enrolled in the free Womanspirit Wisdom mini class you will get a $25 coupon code that can be combined with the early bird registration. This coupon will arrive in your email on February 12.

I’d love to walk this spiral path of initiation, discovery, and practical leadership with you!

cropMolly 184(I’m also cooking up a semi-secret new Goddess Magic Circle. It isn’t a class, it isn’t a “virtual circle,” it is opportunity for collaboration, experience, and co-creation!)

Categories: dissertation, priestess, programs, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

What is the difference between a ritual and a ceremony?

January 2016 035In the course of my dissertation research, the subject of the differences between ritual and ceremony arose as one of the spontaneous questions under consideration. There are many ways to use the words and people tend to gravitate towards one over the other. I realized in our conversation, that I perceive a distinction between the two words and use them in slightly different contexts, but it is difficult to pinpoint the exact difference. Is it just personal preference? Is it tradition or habit? How do you use the two words?

I find that for myself personally I have increasingly begun using the word “ceremony,” because to me it denotes something dynamic and alive. Ritual sometimes implies repetition or roteness. Ceremony implies living, changing, evolving, as well as celebration. I think ceremony is about a sacred approach to the world. However, both can be a collection of actions, a sacred container for experiencing and shared experience, and a process of honoring and celebrating. I also use the terms somewhat interchangeably–i.e. “a women’s ritual” or a “ceremony for my pregnant friend.” I’ve still been trying to puzzle out the distinction between when and how I use the words. We have “full moon rituals” and seasonal rituals and then I have “ceremonies” for specific occasions–like a maiden ceremony or a baby naming ceremony. I’ve also noticed that ceremony feels like a “safer” and more expansive word to me when describing what I do, because ritual might sometimes be associated with “ritualistic” which can have negative, “occult,” or abuse-associated connotations for some people.

I recently finished a book that has been waiting on my shelf for a long time, In the Shadow of the Shaman, by Amber Wolfe and she notes the same: “the very words ceremony and ritual have so many different interpretations that we may become confused and frustrated.”

She offers three basic approaches to the concepts:

Native American. Ritual has to do with acts of Nature energies, primarily shamanic. Ceremonies have to do with set forms of spiritual connections.

Western Occult. Ritual has to do with energies of soul or spiritual levels, set form. Ceremonies have to do with Nature or elemental energies, some set form.

Aquarian Format. Ritual is set form; specific words are used, although you may construct these beforehand from your own blend of traditions. Once ritual is begun, it follows a set format, regardless. This can be most important for acts of active magick when the energies become intensely focused and specific. Ceremony is free-flowing. Emerging energies are incorporated in the basic format. Some traditional ritual formats are used in ceremony to being and to end the events.”

In this context, Wolfe primarily identifies ritual as set or fixed and ceremony as free-flowing, spontaneous, or co-creative. Living ceremony.

The dictionary also seems to overlap the two without clear distinction, describing ceremony in terms of ritual:

  • a formal act or series of acts prescribed by ritual, protocol, or convention <the marriage ceremony>

And, ritual in terms of ceremony:

  • done as part of a ceremony or ritual

Both words get the mark of perhaps connoting meaninglessness or roteness:

  • For ceremony: 2 a :  a conventional act of politeness or etiquette <the ceremony of introduction> b :  an action performed only formally with no deep significance c :  a routine action performed with elaborate pomp. prescribed procedures :  usages <the ceremony attending an inauguration> b :  observance of an established code of civility or politeness

  • For ritual: always done in a particular situation and in the same way each time. Done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol <ritual handshakes> <ritual background checks>

In my research group, the women turned the question over, with one reversing my own use of the terms (ritual = more habitual, scripted, and formulaic and ceremony = living, evolving, active, and embodied) explaining that in her experience: Although ritual can involve ceremony to a lesser or greater degree – the ceremonial aspects are simply trappings. They are the outward visible signs of an inward reality – the embodiment of the ritual enactment within the participants.

On the one hand, “doing ceremony” can be seen as trivializing ritual, the ritual process, the ritual prayer. It is an outward sign. How many times have we experienced ritual – liturgy – perhaps in a traditional church setting, and known that the presider is simply going through the motions. The presider is “doing ceremony” or “saying the mass” — there is no determinable connection with those present. If one acknowledges such things, Spirit is lacking, although many in attendance will contest that observation. However, and I have experienced this myself, when the presider truly connects Higher Power and with those in attendance — truly becomes that vessel of connection — is embodied, then ritual is transformative.

In the book Sacred Ceremony by Steven Farmer, he differentiates the two based on how they change or not. Ritual, to him, is something that doesn’t change–it is always done the same way. Ceremony, to him, is alive and evolves, adapts, and changes.

Another participant pointed out that ritual is the way of enacting ceremony. The two cannot be separated—ceremony is used as a noun and ritual is used as an adjective (though this isn’t actually the case in common use, in which ritual is often used as a noun).

As I’ve typed, I realize that I may personally be more likely to use “ritual” in terms of holidays/calendar-associated events and ceremony with regard to life passages, rites of passage and celebration. I also notice I have a blog category for ritual, but not for ceremony, which indicates that my personal semantics have evolved since I began this blog.

I would love to continue to expand this section. What are the differences in the words to you? Which do you prefer using? Do you use both, but in different contexts or purposes? Is one an inner experience and one an outer one? Is one solitary and one communal? Does your choice of word depend on your “audience”?

IMG_0172Speaking of ritual and ceremony, I’m almost finished with our free Brigid’s Day ceremony kit! And, for a very reasonable price, we’ve also developed a digital version of our Mother Blessing Facilitator Kit.

motherblessing

 

Categories: 30daysofdissertation, ceremony, practices, priestess, ritual, spirituality, women's circle | Leave a comment

Priestess Year in Review (2015)

IMG_7758“… Every day, we witness the positive, transformative effects of, ‘restoring women to ceremony’…another reason it is vital that we continue our work…”

–D’vorah Grenn (Stepping into Ourselves, p. 56)

“The Goddess is not only for the temple, she must be carried out into the world to wherever she is needed…” –Vivianne Crowley (in Voices of the Goddess edited by Caitlin Matthews)

When I became ordained as a priestess with Global Goddess in July of 2012, one of the commitments I made as part November 2015 050of ordination was to be of service in some way to the organization and to document my service to my community through the year. So, in keeping with that commitment, I made a year-end summary post at the end of 2012 and at the end of 2013 and 2014. It is helpful to me personally to see everything grouped together in one post and see that I’m truly doing this work. I enjoy sharing my post each year with the rest of the GG community in hopes of encouraging others to keep a record of their own. To continue this commitment, I again kept a list during 2015 and here it is!

January: family full moon ritual (1/5), beta test priestess class based on Stepping Into Ourselves (they also offer a free intro to priestessing course). Reprinted Womanrunes book with a few revisions and updates.

February: family Brigid Day/Imbolc + baby feet on ground ceremony (2/1. Post regarding is here) IMG_8126

March: full moon ritual (3/7), Sacred Year manifestation ritual (3/8). Family Spring ritual (3/14). Red Tent (3/21).

Also: published Restoring Women to Ceremony: The Red Tent Resource Kit

April: full moon ritual (4/5). Red Tent (4/17). Spring women’s retreat (4/25).

May: Family Beltane (5/3). Red Tent (5/15)

June: Red Tent

July: group summer ritual for whole families (7/1), New Moon ritual (7/15), Red Tent (7/17), Blue Moon ritual IMG_7770(7/31)

Also: Womanrunes Immersion ecourse began

August: Red Tent, Family abundance + gratitude + harvest + full moon ritual

Also: Red Tent Initiation began online

September: Red Tent (9/11). Interview during virtual Red Tent for Journey of Young Women twice. Interview on Goddess Alive radio. Autumn family drum circle. Mini full 11986976_1661342964077919_7888471579811176826_nmoon/eclipse ritual. Went to Gaea Goddess Gathering as vendor and participant.

Also:

October: Red Tent, mother blessing ceremony (10/22), Family Halloween ritual, family full moon ritual

Also:

November: Pink Tent ceremony for mothers and daughters (11/6). Family full moon ritual.

Also:

December: Family solstice (12/21), Family full moon (12/25), Yuletide ceremony (12/28)

Completely unanticipated for 2015 was my “raising” of my own tiny Goddess temple in the woods in which I have happily worked for the last two months and in which I plan to hold small rituals and celebrations throughout 2016.

IMG_9684

My tiny temple!

I wrote 179 posts here in 2015, which was a dramatic increase from previous years, primarily because I took four different 30 Days seasonal ecourses from Joanna Powell Colbert and posted almost every day during those courses.

We published two new books: The Red Tent Resource Kit and Earthprayer, Birthprayer as well as updated and made minor revisions to the Womanrunes book. We also put together a 340 page workbook for the Divination Practicum course. I sculpted six new designs for pewter pendants and 13 for resin goddess sculptures and created our line of beautiful ceremony kits and blessing pouches (and we fulfilled more than 1300 orders for these items, particularly our wildly popular goddess holiday ornaments!)

I continued to host a Priestess Path group on Facebook and began doing dissertation research in this group over the course of the entire year, eventually collecting more than 100 pages of original research thanks to the thoughtful and generous contributions of the practicing priestessing in the group. I started a new Facebook group for Brigid’s Grove: Creative Spirit Circle, as well as maintaining the Brigid’s Grove and Woodspriestess front-coverFacebook pages.

In keeping with the commitment I made upon my ordination, I contributed articles to 7 issues of The Oracle, the online journal of Global GoddessImbolcBeltane, Summer Solstice, First Harvest, Samhaim, Fall Equinox, Winter Solstice.

I wrote 6 posts for Feminism and Religion:

I also wrote 23 posts for my blog at SageWoman magazine.

And, I wrote two articles for Motherhouse of the Goddess:IMG_7927

and for the Rhythms of the Goddess journal: Rhythms of the Goddess – Seasonal Journal | The Motherhouse of the Goddess

I moved some of my blog writing to Brigid’s Grove, creating 86 posts there in 2015, and I will continue to do more and more of this as I phase out some of my other blog commitments.

(I also wrote 100 posts at my birth/motherhood blog and taught ten college classes, but those don’t directly connect to my priestess year in review theme!)

One of my biggest goals for 2015 was to finish my last two D.Min classes (which I did) and my dissertation (which ISeptember 2015 0099 didn’t).

My relevant 2016 goals include:

  • Finish usable draft of dissertation by February
  • Continue hosting monthly Red Tent Circles
  • Continue having family full moon rituals
  • Have at least one community family ritual
  • Participate fully in the Lunar Priestess course I registered for at the beginning of this year
  • Hold a monthly study circle with a few friends12036397_1667128160166066_8284211676923229933_n
  • Finish writing practical priestessing manual and perhaps convert dissertation into a new book
  • Write the book for the Shekhinah Tarot project
  • Facilitate two new sections of the Red Tent Initiation course as well as the very new Womanspirit Initiation course as well as continue to offer the Divination Practicum and the Womanrunes Immersion
  • Gestate and birth and delight in a new Goddess Magic study circle online

As occurs each year, when I write my year-in-review post, when I read this over, it comes up for me to wonder if writing a post like this looks “smug” and self-congratulatory in some way. Am I too focused on numbers and hours and quantifying something instead of small logopresence? Too much do-ing and not enough be-ing? But, in truth, the intention with which each year’s list is created is simply as an accountability thing—both in terms of the vows I made to my community as well as to myself. It is so I can see, collected in one place, what I’ve offered as a priestess this year. It is to allow me a moment of pause, reflection, review, and a sensation of a job well done, rather than immediately rushing off to the next thing, as I tend to do. In reviewing the past year, I am able to see that yes, I am doing this work. I am not just talking about it or imagining it, I am walking the path. I also have to shake my head with some self-compassion and a smile when I recall all the times I worried that I haven’t been doing “enough” or everything that I’d like to do and offer to my community.

July 2015 103

It was a beautiful year! IMG_4933August 2015 089

Categories: nature, practices, priestess, programs, red tent, ritual, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle, woodspriestess, writing | 7 Comments

Free Mini Course: Womanspirit Wisdom

I’ve developed three new free mini courses to offer this year. The first is ready to roll and begins on February 1!

Here are the details…

Womanspirit Wisdom

IMG_0173This three week ecourse is designed to offer you a gently nourishing daily “sacred pause.” Beginning February 1, each day for 21 days, take a moment and simply receive. There is nothing to do, just enjoy taking a daily minute to connect with yourself.

Includes:

Categories: blessings, practices, priestess, programs, quotes, readings, red tent, resources, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, womanspirit, women, women's circle | Leave a comment

Day 22: Winds of change (#30daysofyule)

IMG_0098

We had a small Yuletide ritual last night with extended family, celebrating 2015 and welcoming 2016. We made our manifestation ornaments and walked a slightly belated solstice spiral together (I did the outdoor spiral with my husband and kids on Dec 21st, but this ceremony was planned to include my parents and my brother and sister-in-law who couldn’t come until this past weekend). We sang blessings together and upon leaving the spiral, each person got a little medicine bundle that I had made for them with some stones it in.

Outside is nice, but given recent torrential rains and flooding throughout Missouri, the floor works too!)

Outside is nice, but given recent torrential rains and flooding throughout Missouri, the floor works too!)

920698_1689851081227107_4483391718346574769_o

Outdoor spiral on the 21st.

My own little bundle, randomly selected, surprised me with my second augur/omen like I included in my post yesterday. It is The Flying Woman again! In the close up, you can just spot her to the left in the carnelian stone, arms upraised in transformation. ❤️

IMG_0072This week I enjoyed a couple of posts I’d like to share:

First, a beautifully written, evocative blog post about the ongoing spiral of initiation in leadership…

What does it mean to be initiated? To go through a rite of passage? What does it mean to stand up, to be seen, to be a leader? What does it mean to have the Mysteries revealed to us?…

I believe at one point in the ritual, one of my mentors said something about how initiation and ordination is about becoming someone who can’t unsee your impact. That you can’t go back to the person who can pretend that you don’t have power, you can’t go back to pretending that what you do doesn’t matter…

Source: The Heaviness – Rites of Passage

Then, one about the liminal space of this week between holidays:

The most subversive thing is silence. In this odd interregnum, in the days caught between Christmas and new year, the world suddenly falls quiet. Unless you are determined to face dubious sales, there is nothing more to buy. Travel, especially if you use public transport, is curtailed. We are forced to look at ourselves, to our own company, and those nearest us.

Source: With Christmas gone and new year approaching, now is the time for silence | Philip Hoare | Opinion | The Guardian

And, another about the value of solitude for parents, reminding me of my thoughts about my room of my own:

Solitude is like punctuation. A paragraph without periods and commas would be exhausting to read. In the same way, conducting relationships without the respite of solitude can lessen the benefits of those relationships. Downtime is important for you and your kids. They benefit from solitude too. Taking care of your own solitude will not only help you restore yourself but also show your kids this positive model of self-nurturance

Source: Solitude is Going Extinct: The Stress of Modern Parenting

Here is a past post about Frau Holle as well, who was one of the topics of our day 22 lesson: Source: Goddess Wheel of the Year: Winter Solstice Ritual | WoodsPriestess

IMG_0091

Guardians of the gate.

Categories: #30daysofyule, blessings, family, holidays, practices, priestess, resources, ritual, sacred pause, seasons, self-care, spirituality | 3 Comments

Day 17: Holy darkness (#30daysofyule)

 

 I’ve been feeling rushed for several days so late yesterday afternoon I went and sat on the back porch with my two youngest kids and my drum. We admired the nearly full moon and my daughter said, “let’s make up a new goddess song.” So, we sang and drummed:

I see the goddess in the moon

I feel the goddess in the earth

I taste the goddess in the wind

I hear the goddess in my heart

I touch the goddess in your hand. 

We drew oracle cards and inked them on our wrists. Then, she went in and I took the baby down to the woods where we sang and drummed as the sun went down and darkness fell. We sang:

Moon wise woman*

Moon wise baby

We are moon wise

We are moon wise.

Yeah, yeah, yeah!

 

(*”Moon wise” from a new program being launched by a long distance priestess friend and for which I will be guest teaching in the spring.)

Categories: #30daysofyule, chants, drums, family, moon wisdom, nature, night, parenting, priestess, ritual, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, womanspirit, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Claypriestess (#30daysofdissertation)

12362679_1685790088299873_4037715236141904055_o“If there is one chant in the universe it is to create.”

–Chris Griscolm quoted in Nicole Christine, p. 25

If you have ever eavesdropped on a conversation between my husband and me around the clamor of our children’s voices, you will hear me making a tired lament: “All I want is a broad swath of uninterrupted time.” I am listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic, on audio book from the library right now and she mentions that many creative people lament not having long stretches of uninterrupted time available in which to work. She quotes a letter from Herman Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne, lamenting his lack of time and how he is always pulled “hither and thither by circumstances.” Melville said that he longed for a wide-open stretch of time in which to write. She says he called it, “the calm, the coolness, the silent grass-growing mood in which a man ought always to compose.”

…I do not know of any artist (successful or unsuccessful, amateur or pro) who does not long for that kind of time. I do not know of any creative soul who does not dream of calm, cool, grass-growing days in which to work with- out interruption. Somehow, though, nobody ever seems to achieve it. Or if they do achieve it (through a grant, for in- stance, or a friend’s generosity, or an artist’s residency), that idyll is just temporary—and then life will inevitably rush back in. Even the most successful creative people I know complain that they never seem to get all the hours they need in order to engage in dreamy, pressure-free, creative exploration. Reality’s demands are constantly pounding on the door and disturbing them. On some other planet, in some other lifetime, perhaps that sort of peaceful Edenic work environment does exist, but it rarely exists here on earth. Melville never got that kind of environment, for instance. But he still somehow managed to write Moby-Dick, anyhow.

Source: Elizabeth Gilbert On Unlocking Creativity, Ideas As Viruses . News | OPB

My little temple space in which to create in uninterrupted time...

My little temple space in which to create in uninterrupted time…

Today I spent almost two hours working on my dissertation (does this take the place of the next several days of 15
minutes, I wonder?!). I decided to take a dramatic step and I opened a fresh document and started over. Well, not started over, exactly, but approached my material in a new way. I had been working within a 300+ page document that was very cumbersome to navigate. I also discovered a huge amount of repetition in the material, thanks to having copied and pasted the same sections into the document multiples times. This morning, while doing yoga, I suddenly realized that rather than try to mine through the 300 pages and delete repetition, I needed to start with a blank document and move relevant pieces from the 300 pages into it, therefore leaving behind that which is not needed, rather than trying to excavate it. So, after my two hours, I now have four documents: 108 pages of research results from my study group (originally 154), 21 pages of additional typed research notes from books I’ve read that haven’t been placed correctly within my dissertation, and 69 pages of “leftover” content from my original 300. That now leaves 113 pages in my “starter” dissertation. This was a difficult process. I got scared that I wasn’t going to have enough. I started to feel panicky that I don’t know what I’m doing and I have nothing good to say. I started to worry that I can’t do this. It became exceedingly clear that it is going to take me a long time to finish and I’m not sure how to put it all together. And, then…glimmers of something coming together. Section titles and opening stories to frame the sections started to come to me and I sense the shape of it emerging. Something worthwhile and valuable is there. I know it. Now, for that broad swath of uninterrupted time…

One of the things that caught my eye again today as I did all this rearranging was a section I typed from Priestess: Woman as Sacred Celebrant by Pamela Eakins about her past life memories of making clay goddess figures as a temple priestess

“…to me it brought a continuation of the energy of the sacred objects of the grandmothers. I contained 12310054_1685134281698787_1950735518948681440_othis energy in a new form in the dolls that would be placed upon the altars and in the graves of the daughters living now and the daughters to come…

I felt this process made my own clay stronger, too. Some of the pieces cracked in the fire because of the added ‘impurities’…but, in this case, I felt the impurities were the purest of pure and I worshipped each crack knowing the crack contained the wisdom of the priestesses who had occupied the doll-making table for more moons than I could even imagine. It contained too, the devotional energy of every grandmother who had held it in her hands or placed it on her altar. Sometimes ‘impurities’ sanctify further that which is holy to begin with.

My hands knew the mind of the clay before they touched it. My designs were fine. My fingers were nimble. I made the same figures over and over. I knew from the start, no matter what shell her outer form took, whether it was black or brown, gray or red, depending on the mix, that her essence was the same…

While I tend to have a knee-jerk skepticism about past-life memories, there is something in Eakins’ words that I know at a bone-deep level as I do my own work with goddesscraft: 12309972_1684185268460355_7337326396732314515_o

…Each goddess was imprinted with the sound of sacred life coursing through the Universe. I changed with the priestesses as the figures came through my hands. Each doll received the sacred vibration of life…For seventy-seven moons I made the dolls at the long table with the young Sisters of Nun. My hands were so fast. I made thousands of figures: beautiful little faces, etched collars of gold plates, pubic hair swirled into tiny rows of connecting spirals. They were so precious. At the end of the day, my baked clay shelves were covered with little women.

The clay goddesses healed…

This is how I apprenticed. I learned, in this manner, the art of healing. I learned that to heal means to make whole, and that becoming whole involves learning many levels of purification, balance, and reformation” (p. 32-33).

In Anne Key’s marvelous priestess memoir, Desert Priestess, she makes this important point: “It is of course no small wonder why graven images are so tightly controlled by religious traditions.” (p. 52) Sometimes I feel like this is what I’m tapping into when I make my own goddess sculptures—a resistance to tight control over graven images and over personalization of divinity as male.

And, I return to Gilbert’s thoughts on creative living as a life path:

Is this the ideal environment in which to create — having to make art out of “things residual” in stolen time? Not really. Or maybe it’s fine. Maybe it doesn’t matter, because that’s how things have always been made. Most individuals have never had enough time, and they’ve never had enough resources, and they’ve never had enough support or patronage or reward … and yet still they persist in creating. They persist because they care. They persist because they are called to be makers, by any means necessary…Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible.

Source: Elizabeth Gilbert On Unlocking Creativity, Ideas As Viruses . News | OPB

In my spare minutes of hither-and-thither creating, I did put together a mini-book of Seasonal Meditations as a solstice gift for newsletter subscribers. If you already subscribe to the Brigid’s Grove newsletter, make sure you’ve checked your email for your mini book. If you don’t you can do so now and it will be sent out again tonight. 🙂

December 2015 066

Categories: 30daysofdissertation, art, creativity, dissertation, Goddess, priestess, quotes, readings, sacred pause, sculpture, self-care, spirituality, woodspriestess, writing | Leave a comment

Day 7: St. Lucia’s Day (#30DaysofYule)

More than anything, I am the Lightbringer, who appears mysteriously out of the darkest night with hope and sustenance for all.
— Joanna Powell Colbert, A Crown of Candles: How to Throw a Fabulous Lucia Party

IMG_9838Simple rituals can be so powerful. Last night, the third candle on our advent Yule log was lit in honor of St. Lucia’s Day. We say a variation of the Buddhist metta prayer to go with our candle-lighting each Sunday. We followed this mini ceremony with slices of a Baumkuchen German cake from Aldi and mugs of mocha Teeccino (chicory “coffee”).

My daughter made the candles on the log with the help of my mom. And, joining our Yule log centerpiece is this “opalite” goddess that Mark just cast last night. We created so many that were sent out all over the world during our Nov 1-Dec 1 goddess holiday ornament event, but we hadn’t yet made one to keep! She’s it!

IMG_9834The kids were especially delighted with the cake, which was a surprise. (Not a planned surprise–it happened not to fit in the in-laws Christmas box, which was its original destination!)

IMG_9837May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be loved

May I safe
May I be free.

 

Categories: #30daysofyule, blessings, family, holidays, practices, prayers, priestess, ritual, sabbath, sacred pause, seasons, spirituality | Leave a comment

Day 1: Stillness, Quiet (#30daysofyule, #30daysofdissertation)

IMG_968430 Days of Yule began today. I deeply connect with Joanna’s description of the twin moods of this season: “The deepest gifts of the midwinter holiday season are the twin companions of Solitude and Community. We need both.”

I feel these twin companion keenly at this time of year. My picture for today is also part of my 30 Days of Dissertation, because I’ve decided I’m raising a Goddess Temple here in the woods. For real! I’ve commandeered my children’s unused clubhouse (with their blessing/permission) and it is becoming beautiful, sacred space. I spent way more than 15 minutes yesterday working on the inside of it and I had such a wonderful time. I will write more about it soon.

Today, the day was actually anything but still and quiet. We went to St. Louis for a homeschool field trip to the history museum and were gone all day (I did manage to move some quotes from three different saved pdfs into my dissertation document). We were in need of a small adventure for our family after all of the busy-ness November held and so I have no regrets about being in the hustle and bustle of the city rather than the peace of the woods. However, I now seek the quiet of my bed, my thoughts, and the restoration of sleep…

IMG_9701

Carriage ride at the museum (with merry jingle bells on the large draft horses).

Categories: #30daysofyule, 30daysofdissertation, community, family, parenting, priestess, retreat, sacred pause, self-care, spirituality, woodspriestess | Leave a comment

Priestess Semantics (#30DaysofDissertation)

IMG_9643-1I revisited one of my first posts at SageWoman yesterday as I continued to type notes from Under Her Wings.

“The journey to become a priestess…(even of the urban variety) remains a grueling task, not something capable of being conferred by a few weekend workshops or sweat lodges. The glibness with which such terms are used can be infuriating…” –Vivienne Vernon-Jones in Voices of the Goddess by Caitlin Matthews

Source: Practical Priestessing: Who Does She Think SHE is?! – PaganSquare – PaganSquare – Join the conversation!

Nicole Christine also addresses the fear, the chastisement, of “who does she think she is?” as she describes working with her first group of initiates:

“This is when the priestess within came to life! Many wanted me to tell them how to be a priestess. Now, through direct communion with the Goddess and the priestess within, we were, each in our own time and own way, discovering what it means to be a priestess in these times.

Facilitating, rather than directing, I was in continual awe over what was seeking expression through us.”(p. 69)

She reached a conclusion with her group: “And we concurred that to be a priestess in these times was about inner mediation between the Goddess Within and our woman self, rather than serving as an intermediary between the Divine and humankind” (p . 68). But, she also acknowledges a shared fear that I find reassuring in my own work:  “A split in consciousness regarding use of the term priestess existed in the first circle of initiates. Most fear ridicule and/or misunderstanding if they openly identified as priestesses, and also felt somehow unworthy of such identification. But when time came for their ordinations, these women radiantly reclaimed their worthiness and courageously broke ground for new priestesses” (p. 81).

I marked one more quote on the topic of self-worth, since I struggle here a lot as well: “[a priestess in the initiation process] shared her inner pilgrimage process. ‘I kept trying to be a priestess and feeling more and more worthless because I wasn’t being what I thought a priestess should be. Finally, I realized that a priestess, more than anything, needs to be honest with her feelings—that is where the power and self-worth are” (p. 96).

Switching gears, I realized that in all of my 311 pages of typing so far (plus 154 pages of research participation questions, I’ve almost totally overlooked an entire element of The Priestess (as archetype) and that is the sexual priestess. I think my knee-jerk reaction is to completely dismiss “temple prostitute” type of verbiage in literature as an artifact of patriarchal conditioning/interpretation. i.e. I don’t know that I believe that the role of ancient temple priestesses actually had anything to do with sex per se, instead I think that later historians/archaeologists have trouble understanding that female religious leadership could be in a capacity other than sexual and so they dismiss priestess evidence as “temple prostitute” (much like dismissing all sculptures as “fertility icons” instead of goddesses). But, in that rejection of what I see as the temple prostitute “myth,” I am missing out on a whole category of responses or interpretations.

Nicole Christine actually addresses this subject in some depth in Under Her Wings:

“The author [of The Sacred Prostitute] affirmed my knowing that it is the sacred prostitute/sexual priestess who actively brings goddess love into the human realm” (p. 93).

(Though, I kind of scratch my head here. I recognize that I’m probably layering on some of my own culturally ingrained judgements/stereotypes/conceptions here, but to me, I see and experience many ways of bringing goddess love into the human realm that have nothing to do with being a sacred prostitute/sexual priestess…)

Actually, as I type now, I realize I didn’t completely overlook it, because I did read Aphrodite’s Priestess by Laurelei Black. I listened to several Voices of the Sacred Feminine shows that related to “sacred courtesanship” and I participate in enough women’s empowerment focused Facebook groups to know that some women embrace themselves as “dakini” or priestesses of the sexual arts. Though, it has also only very recently caught my attention that some people, other than those patriarchally blinded archaeologist types, actually perceive Priestess as a synonym for Prostitute! I mean more that I overlooked it as a serious area for further exploration and discussion. I also just found out about this book, but I don’t know that I have time to add another book to my pile!

IMG_9220

Categories: 30daysofdissertation, dissertation, feminist thealogy, practices, priestess, quotes, readings, resources, spirituality, women, woodspriestess | 2 Comments

Ritual energy (#30daysofdissertation)

November 2015 059“Personally, what I have noticed most often about the level of energy in the many rituals I have experienced has far more to do with my mood and personal energy level in solitary rites, and the personalities and personal connections of the people involved in the group rites I’ve experienced than with any external factor, from clothing or lack thereof, to male-female alternation around the circle, to tradition or jewelry or hairstyle, or whatever. Are the people happy to be there? Do they genuinely like each other? Do they believe in the work they’re doing? These are the things I’ve noticing affecting magic’s potency for me.” (Thuri Calafia, Dedicant, p. 159)

I didn’t feel like I had a lot of generative, creative energy for dissertation work today, so I decided to spend my fifteen minutes finishing typing up some quotes from the book Dedicant, by Thuri Calafia. It was a smart way to spend my time, made me think of a new question to pose in my Priestess Path study group, and “decluttered” my research desk by moving the book from the stack on the desk to back on the bookshelf!

This quote caught my eye because I’ve written before that I find it easier to have spiritual experiences on my own rather than in a group, even though I deeply value and enjoy working with groups. Working with groups of people has a lot of power by their own right, but for divine connection, give me solitude in the woods!

That reflection brought me to a quote I’d used in a past blog post:

Ritual Priestessing is not for the faint of heart. If you fear chaos, the unexpected, or the unforeseen, choose another vocation. A ritual facilitator regularly finds herself in challenging situations that are not at all what she originally planned. In order to facilitate others, you first need to know how to be a good participant. I don’t believe that it is possible for a woman to priestess/facilitate a ritual effectively until she first knows how to truly participate in one…

Source: Dance in a circle of women… | WoodsPriestess

And, considering the why of doing this 30 Days project now. Why expect this daily dissertation work during the holiday season, when business is booming, my kids need me, etc.? Can’t I just wait to work on the dissertation until January? Well…first of all, I said I’d do it this year and I feel like I’d like to honor myself by giving it the best effort I can during what is left of the year!  Second though, I realized with the “fifteen minutes” tip from my friend that I routinely spend way more than fifteen minutes scrolling through my instagram or facebook feeds, so it really isn’t too much to expect of myself to redirect that energy into #30daysofdissertation. So, appropriately, this afternoon I also typed this quote I’d marked down months ago from Dedicant: As it is with our gardens, so it is with life. We sometimes can have too many choices, too many things that pull us in too many directions. There comes a time when we must decide what we will keep putting our energy into, and what we will let go of, even if only for a while…Be gentle with yourself, as you need to nurture your own growth…” (Calafia, p. 202-203)

I don’t know that I’ll actually make a companion blog post each day, but so far I am enjoying the accountability factor in doing so.

Now to turn my attention back to my Feminism and Religion blog post!

12309593_1684483265097222_6944474567961867619_o

Categories: 30daysofdissertation, books, community, dissertation, Goddess, introversion, practices, priestess, quotes, resources, spirituality, woodspriestess, writing | Leave a comment

Everyday Priestess (#30daysofdissertation)

12309972_1684185268460355_7337326396732314515_oI am a priestess nursing my baby. I am a priestess molding my clay. I am a priestess crying over unhung up dresses in my closet and how I didn’t get my own way about how the day would unfold today. It is hard this work of self-facing. It is hard to be confronted with one’s lack of serenity, empathetic failures, relationship rushes, mothering moments of impatience and snappishness, meltdowns, and minutia, bogged down in the molasses of the daily round. Where is my fluttering robe, my twinkling eyes, my beatific smile spreading graciously across my face as I serenely embrace each moment as it unfolds?

Today, I used my fifteen dissertation moments to transcribe a recording about the “everyday priestess” as well as one about initiation and growth. I also re-read this old post of mine:

In the book, West County Wicca, the shared responsibility for the Circle is identified as well: “The Circle belongs to all who are in it. I have heard people in recent times say, ‘I wouldn’t have such and such in MY circle.’ But it is not THEIR circle. It is the circle of the coven. We had no permanent leaders when I was taught” (p. 17). Ryall also explains that, “The Priestess actively involved in the ceremony is merely the key that unlocks the door, and the Goddess Power brought down into the Circle is for the benefit of all…(p. 27, emphasis mine).

Source: Co-Circling & The Priestess Path | WoodsPriestess

I started working on my post for Feminism and Religion this month. I am unsure which direction I am going with it…perhaps addressing my mamapriestess musings, perhaps doing more development of the “palm of my hand” post from earlier this month.

Categories: 30daysofdissertation, dissertation, practices, priestess, spirituality, writing | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.