Tag Archives: Goddess

Close Your Eyes and Listen

third eye

Judith Laura has recoded audio for some of the meditations in her books, all 20 of the guided meditations from Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century and from the 1999 and 2010 editions of She Lives!

If you’re like me, you’ve read dozens of books that include meditations or other exercises that you can do to improve your experience of the material. Some of them even suggest that you record the meditation, etc. so that you can listen to it with your eyes closed, while drawing or journaling, or while doing the described movements. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never bothered.

I love the idea of having the meditation recorded, especially by the author. I’m a complete techno-Luddite, but surely it’s possible to embed the audio for such meditations in Kindle books? Or to include a CD or a link to a website in dead-tree books? A link to a YouTube video?

Picture found here.

I’d love to see more authors follow Judith’s example.

And If the Goddess Doesn’t Exist . . . .

eleusis

I’ll add this one point to yesterday’s post:

It was said of those who experienced the Eleusinian Mysteries that they no longer feared death. Plato said, “Our mysteries had a very real meaning . . . .” And Cicero said, “Nothing is higher than these mysteries . . . they have not only shown us how to live joyfully but they have taught us how to die with a better hope.” I am a Witch because I have direct experience of the mystery, the Goddesses, the conscious Planet, Her living rocks, and leaves, and waters, of what magic feels like when it flows up from the Earth, through my hands, into the world.

But my analytical side understands that most modern day psychologists would consider my beliefs a bit mad. Oh, not dangerous. “She’s apparently able to hold down a job, pay her bills, take her trash out on Mondays, drive on the right side of the street, pass for normal. But, still, kind of batty.” Maybe a chemical imbalance in the brain, an unresolved neurosis, early dementia.

The truth is that, even if the sane people were right and the planet were simply inert minerals, the Goddesses figments of a fevered imagination, and the mysteries no mystery at all, I would still live my life exactly the same. I would go on experiencing the mysteries, worshiping the Goddesses, doing magic to make the world a better place. Because that’s the only way that it all makes sense to me. Because that’s the only world in which I want to live.

So maybe that’s part of the reason why I can’t get too worked up over disputes over whether it’s real or theoretical Goddesses dancing on the head of a mushroom. In the end, I agree with J.D. Salinger:

“I was six when I saw that everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all,” Teddy said. “It was on a Sunday, I remember. My sister was a tiny child then, and she was drinking her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God. I mean, all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.”

It’s all just Goddess pouring Goddess into Goddess. May it be so for you.

Picture found here.

Can You Identify the Goddess? Trick Question.

Where is the Goddess?

It’s a trick question, a koan, a “settled case of the law.”

Astute observers of this video will see: (1) Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace (aka, Columbia) atop the U.S. Capitol, and, (2) the Roman Goddess Virtus on the seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia. But, of course, everyone in the video “art” Goddess, just as, “thou art Goddess,” (including the wonderful young man, whom, I sincerely hope (Hey! My religion enacts in real time the notions that Thou Art Goddess and that All Acts of Love & Pleasure), gets laid every single day of his life).

You know that internet meme? This one captures all of me:

Who my friends think I am: The girl with the white umbrella.

Who society thinks I am: The girl with the lace on her blue shirt.

Who my mother thinks that I am: The girl in the white shorts.

Who I think I am: The girl in the sneakers, dress, and headscarf who actually can dance.

Who I really am: I really art Goddess.

I grew up (Everybody! Hello, everybody! Get your sneer on! You, you, too! You! You, over in the corner with the chai latte! I don’t think you’re sneering enough!) a Second Wave feminist and if I didn’t do anything else other than to help to create a world where these amazing young women can sing and dance about their vaginas in such an open way, well, I’ll head gladly off to the Summerlands tomorrow morning. I still remember that personal-is-the-political-consciousness-raising session when we passed around a mirror and saw “them.” Yes, daughters, we’d had them all of our lives and never seen them. So, thanks for the dance. And, may the crazies keep their hands of of yours!

Hail and Welcome, Hecate


I am no historian and what I don’t know about ancient Greece could (and does) fill libraries. However, there is an at least modern notion that today, August 13th, was traditionally a feast day dedicated to Hecate or, in some tellings, to Hecate and Artemis (you know those Virgin Goddesses; they all look alike).

In my favorite version of the story, today is the day to propitiate Hecate in order to receive her protection against the kind of violent storms that can, at least in my watershed, come along at this time of year and destroy the crops that sit out in the fields, almost ready for harvest. As a gardener, I do know how painful it can be to work all year and be on the verge of harvest, only to lose everything. (Dodder, I’m looking at you and counting the French Tarragon plants I’ve had to sacrifice in the last few weeks. And it’s not a nice look.) This is a liminal time, and so it makes sense to me that it would be dedicated to Hecate, Goddess of the Crossroads and the Threshold. After all that work, the gardens are on the cusp of either providing bounty to get the gardener and hir community through to next Spring or of being ruined by a violent late-Summer storm. And, as if on schedule, my beautiful, poison brugmansias are in bloom today in honor of the Queen of Poisoners.

The other day, there was an interesting debate in The Wild Hunt Blog comments about what Hecate looks like. When She comes to me, she mostly looks BIG, HUGE, AS LARGE AS GALAXIES. But here are a few images of her that I especially like:

First, this one, found here. I have this image on one of Lunea’s rosaries that I often wear.

Second, this one by Renee Rhodes:

Finally, here She is in Macbeth:

Picture found here.

Hymn to Hekate

~ Lykeia

Swathed in red is Hekate.
Hooded in red is Hekate.
Red-hemmed Artemis lift aloft your burning torch.
And bring the trumpet of the nocturnal hunt.
The flow of life is in the hands of Hekate,
And her burning light guides the way.
Terror-ridden roar of the bull is the trumpet’s blast,
And the hounds bay in search of their prey.
The beasts of the woods shudder in their homes,
And a scream fills the night air.
None is safe from the nocturnal hunt,
And Hekate guides the host of of souls to their new abode.
The light of Hekate does not flicker,
But illuminates the halls of the dead,
And exalts in the company of fair Persephone.
Bloodied red Hekate, we leave your monthly feast,
At the site of your throne.
Red swathed Hekate has all roads lain before her,
And merciful Godess greets those unfortunate to share her plate.
The touch of Hekate is merciful, and in her embrace we depart.

from Bearing Torches: A Devotional Anthology for Hekate by Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

An Interview with Judith Laura about Goddess Matters


Judith Laura has been thinking and writing about Goddess religions for many years. Her publications include: Beyond All Desiring, Exploring Re-Visioned Kabbalah, Three Part Intervention, She Lives! The Return of Our Great Mother, and Goddess Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century. She recently wrote Goddess Matters: The Mystical, Practical, and Controversial. Goddess Matters is a fascinating look at where Goddess religions are and where they may be going. (And you’ve got to love the double entendre of the title.) Judith is also a serious student of Tarot. I recently had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her latest work.*

Hecate: In the section of Goddess Matters entitled Practical Thealogy and Applied Metaphysics, you take on the topic of Physical Disabilities and Goddess Events and point out some ways for event organizers and publicists to be thoughtful. Can you talk a little bit more about this topic? And are there ways that social media can help us be more thoughtful?

Judith Laura: My realization that this was an issue came first through my own experience of having what turned out to be chronic serious foot problems. Before I that, like many other temporarily-abled people, I gave little if any thought to the challenges people with various disabilities might face in trying to attend Goddess events — or really any other type of event. In terms of other events, there are now laws that make it somewhat easier to have access to buildings, etc., but these laws don’t solve all the problems and rarely apply to places where Goddess events are held — often outdoors or in private homes. The examples I give in the book of obstacles encountered by people trying to attend Goddess or Pagan events come from both online “mailing lists” aka discussion groups, and what people have told me in person. I’d like to see it to become routine for people having these events to give more specific information about these obstacles in the information they communicate about the events without putting the burden of finding out upon the people with disabilities. For example, I think the common request for people who need “accommodation” to contact the sponsor of the event should be replaced, or added to, with such basic information as how close can you park to the event? how much walking is involved once you reach the event? are there stairs to climb? is the ground uneven? hilly? flat? These are just a few bits of information, applying to only a few types of physical challenges. But it would be a start. People have also suggested to me that sponsors of events should state whether there will be a sign language interpreter or other help for the hearing-impaired. Others tell me they think a sign language interpreter should be provided at every event. So there are lots of stories and ideas out there, but I’m not sure how many are expressed directly to people holding the events. I’ve not seen a lot of this online. Certainly discussion groups, Facebook, Twitter and other social media give more of an opportunity than we had BC (Before Computers), including the possibility of asking for better accommodation behind the mask of a pseudonym. But I’m not sure how much cyberspace is being used for that purpose.

Hecate: I love that you address the topic of Goddess Beliefs and Sexual Risks. For all that we like to call ourselves sex-positive, we don’t talk much about these issues. You have some interesting things to say about masturbation as a way to become closer to the Goddess. Can you explain what you mean by that?

Judith Laura: In this chapter, my advocacy of masturbation not only as a route to pleasure but also to the sacred follows a discussion dispelling some misconceptions about the transmission of STDs, including HIV, and of the relative dangers and safety of various sex practices. Due mostly to cultural conditioning, many of us have narrow ideas about masturbation, (aka self-pleasuring), a relatively safe sex practice. When people ask if you’ve had sex lately, they usually don’t mean self-pleasuring. Why is that? To me, what counts as sex is arousal and orgasm. By this definition, self-pleasuring surely is sex, since for many women it is more likely to lead to orgasm than partnered sex, especially many forms of het sex. Yet our culture often ridicules self-pleasuring, making us — and by us, I mean especially women — feel ashamed of engaging in this type of sex. Why? Are we still buying into the idea that we are receptive vessels, not active participants? Are we still expecting our partners to “give us” an orgasm, rather than we ourselves participating in ways that make orgasm more inevitable? Women friends of mine have told me that they don’t feel right touching themselves in ways that arouse them. “Why,” I ask, “isn’t it your body?” I feel that our Goddess beliefs pave the way for our considering self-pleasuring to be of equal value to other forms of sex. A number of Goddess creation myths tell of the Goddess creating through an act of self-pleasuring. Also, we have the Maiden aspect of the Goddess as an example. We sometimes call this aspect, “Virgin,” but we don’t mean that she denies herself sex. Quite the contrary, what we mean is that the Maiden/Virgin is independent and that independence includes her sexual activities, which may be sex on her own terms with another with whom she is not in a binding relationship, or it may mean masturbation. Self-pleasuring increases our independence — and possibly also our good heath — by making it less likely that we will fall into bed with someone we neither love nor desire. Self-pleasuring can also improve our sex lives in partnered sex by revealing to us what turns us on. In addition to all this, in my experience, and in the experience of women who have told me about their experiences, self-pleasuring can also be a more direct path to Goddess. Orgasm is often accompanied by (or includes) a change in consciousness in which, as we become more focused on pleasure, we become less aware of our surroundings. This leads, at the moment(s) of most intense pleasure in orgasm, to a feeling of oneness with or merging with what some call “the universe” others call “the sacred,” and others call Goddess. That this feeling is brought about by physical activity and body response verifies its place in a spirituality that affirms embodiment of the sacred. Or sacred embodiment. If you are having sex with someone you love during this experience, you are likely to feel that the sensation of onesness, or merging, includes your partner and this strengthens your love bond. If you are having sex with someone with whom you are not in love, the experience may give you the momentary illusion of love for this person. If you are having sex by yourself, the experience is more obviously connected with the universal Source, with Goddess. For young women first finding themselves sexually, orgasm via self-pleasuring can help discover what to seek or ask for in partnered sex. For older women and others who may not easily find partners or who don’t want partners, it means being able to independently experience sexual pleasure and merging with Goddess.

Hecate: Goddess Matters has an interesting discussion of Carol Christ‘s work on process theology. As a serious student of Tarot, you have an interesting take on Christ’s rejection of divination. Please explain how you view the interplay between free will and divination.

Judith Laura: I don’t know that Carol Christ is rejecting divination; what I think she is doing in her book, She Who Changes, is explaining why process theologians reject divination. I greatly admire Carol Christ’s work in this book and in her other writings. The importance of her contribution to Goddess feminism cannot be overstated. I discuss her book, She Who Changes, which combines Goddess thealogy with process theology, in the last chapter of Goddess Matters, “The Cutting Edge,” which also includes a discussion of the work of 3 other authors (including me), who combine Goddess with other thought, mostly with various sciences. In She Who Changes, Christ points out that process theology, which is more science-friendly than most theologies and, imo, compatible with the Goddess understandings of many people in most ways, does not allow for the possibility of, for example, predicting the future. Christ explains that in process theologians’ view, predictions of future events are based on the assumption that the future is “already determined, already known, or has already happened.” Since in process theology people must have free will, if process theology were to be adopted whole cloth by Goddessians it seems that we would have to give up our use of divination.

But I feel that the assumption that divination involves denial of free will is a misconception which, btw, is not limited to process theologians. In the “Cutting Edge” chapter I write that the assumption that the future is already determined “is not the assumption made by most divining Goddess folks I know. In reading Tarot, I assume quite differently and tell people for whom I read that the future is not set in stone, that they retain free will, and that we are looking at possibilities or probabilities, not certainties. We shuffle the cards to achieve randomness, a quality of the universe according to quantum physics.” I have had a statement to this effect on my website page about tarot reading since at least 2003.

Prediction in Tarot is to me similar to predicting the weather. Do you think that process theologians would consider a meteorologist’s prediction that it was going to rain the next day infringing on their free will? Or do you think they would take along an umbrella? The meteorologists’ forecasts are not always 100 percent accurate, nor do they claim this. The same is true of Tarot. What both we and the meteorologists (and others who make predictions, such as stock market prognosticators) are predicting is probabilities, not certainties. The meteorologist’s probabilities are based on factors such as which way the wind is blowing, what has occurred in the past when atmospheric conditions have been similar, and how fast fronts are moving. Just so, the Tarot reader bases her predictions on what she learns through the cards about factors that are metaphorically, or sometimes even literally, similar to those used by weather forecasters (such as which way “the wind” is blowing). There is also a factor of interaction; for meteorologists the interaction is among various factors that affect the weather, some of which may not be known at the time the forecast is made because they haven’t emerged yet. For the tarot reader the interaction is among the readee’s actions and actions of other people (and sometimes institutions, companies, countries, etc.) affecting the question the readee asks , some of which may not be known at the time, mainly because those involved haven’t yet made choices (because they have free will) that they have before them.

As I point out in Goddess Matters, near the end of She Who Changes, Christ seems to come to a similar conclusion. She writes that “no method of divination can tell us with certainty what will happen. On the other hand, the future will be a synthesis of things that already exist. Methods of divination can be understood as other than rational ways of getting a perspective on what already exists and as ways of imagining what we and others can create out of what already exists.” I think that many aspects of process theology as Christ presents them could be a good addition to Goddess thought, and I wonder if we can adopt the parts that seem to fit and leave behind those parts with which we are not comfortable.

Hecate: What’s your take on on-line rituals? Will we see Goddess worship moving on-line even while, as you discuss, more and more actual Goddess temples are built?

Judith Laura: I’ve attended only two online rituals in chatrooms and that was many years ago — I think one was before the turn of the century. I don’t know if online rituals will become more common. I think they have at least two obstacles to overcome. One is people being in different time zones. Some are sleeping, some are at work, while others are at home and awake. The other is that we are a path to which embodiment is important, whereas the medium renders us disembodied. This could be overcome somewhat in the future if use of audio and video in online communications with more than one person becomes common. So, I guess the answer is, we’ll see…

Hecate: What are you writing now?

Judith Laura: I’m trying to gather together my poems, many of which have been published in print and online journals, into some coherent (or acceptably poetically incoherent) form which will hopefully become a book.

*Full disclosure: I consider Judith a friend and go to her for important Tarot readings. She gifted me with an inscribed copy of Goddess Matters, which I treasure.

Picture found here.

Libertas, Align with Us

I’ve got a longer post on this topic that I won’t get to finish until later this week, but, you know, I’m thinking the New Apostolic Reformation had no idea what kind of Goddesses they were “fixing to mess with,” as we say here in the South.

Swirling Skirt Hems of the Dancing Goddess

Aurora Borealis in Finnish Lapland 2011 from Flatlight Films on Vimeo.

hat tip to NTodd.

Biscantorat

/hat tip markarios

Conversations with Columbia: Part Five


This post is the final in a series begun in July, concerning my conversation with the Goddess Columbia. You can read the earlier installments here, here, here, and here.

My final question to Columbia was: “What do you want from your devotees?” Using the Wildwood Tarot, I pulled the Eight of Vessels: Rebirth.* The Wildwood Tarot book says:

Meaning: By looking at the past, acknowledging our mistakes and learning from them, we grow and attain new wisdom. The future waits to be unfolded by our positive action as we become “The Eighth Vessel” and receive powerful rejuvinating energies of rebirth.

Reading Points: Rejoice! A time of renewal and potential is here. The cycle of rebirth and healing brings inner peace and confidence. Once you accept that all the blessings and gifts of life can be your or, indeed, already belong to you, the fear of asking is gone. It is time to shed the skin of the past and accept and utilize the overflowing potential of the present that is freely available to you. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Do not be afraid to ask: “Why not me?” See potential where others see barriers. See challenge as others see impossible odds. Apply all that you have learned through experience and toil to any problem and you will not fail. You have striven to survive and absorb insight; you have endured loss to retain your integrity. All of these trials have made you stronger, wiser, and more effective. Drink of this new fountain of opportunity and renew your life objectives. You have endured the past; its gifts were hard won. [N]ow the chalenge of the future unfolds. Grasp it and shape it in your hands as you would have it manifest in your life.

Which is a lot to consider.

What I hear Columbia saying through the five Tarot cards that I pulled is this:

She’s the American manifestation of an ancient and significant Goddess, now the genius locii of my city and this nation. She’s more deeply connected to the green, wilderness parts of my city and of this nation than many suspect. She “the goddess of the land, sometimes expressed as Sovereignty” and validates the leadership of legitimate government, bringing them their land’s version of the sacred sword and the Hallows of Britain. She’s a symbol of the “power and protection of the land.”

On the other hand, She’s still young, still ecstatic in her dance upon This Place, still performing her initiation ritual, still overwhelmed with bounty and connection. In spite of Her connection to older Goddesses, Columbia’s “freedom of spirit marks [her] out as an original and unique personality” one with a tendency to invasiveness in territories not her own.

What Columbia wants from her devotees, it seems to me, is a period of renewal and rebirth in which, using the wisdom that we’ve gained from prior generations, we accept her blessings and stop acting from fear. She wants her devotees to step up, to be unafraid of asking, “Why not me?” especially when Columbia’s principles (liberty, freedom, democracy, justice) are threatened. Columbia wants us to grasp the future “and shape it in your hands as you would have it manifest in your life.”

Makes sense.

I plan to do future trance workings to get to know Columbia even better. I feel the need to do them around significant American holidays, and I won’t be using Columbus Day, for, maybe, obvious reasons. Hopefully, the Thanksgiving Holiday (which I do consider an almost uniquely American holiday) will allow me some more time. In the meanwhile, your interpretations of the cards, in comments, are always welcome.

*This Wildwood Tarot card is a significant departure from the traditional Rider-Waite-based Eight of Cups, which shows an incomplete set of cups stacked beside flowing water and a person setting off in search of something more. I think it can be significant when, in a Tarot reading, the card selected varies from the traditional card. Here, there is a sense of more being avaliable, but it’s not based upon an incomplete or lacking past; it’s more abundant and optimistic than that. Of course, the card reminds me immediately of the Potomac River, which flows through Washington, D.C. and which I very much associate with Columbia.

Picture found here.

Conversations with Columbia — Part the Third

“‘Only connect!’ That was the whole of her sermon. . . . Live in fragments no longer.” ~ E.M. Forster

More than anything else, being a Witch, for me, is about connection. Connection to the Earth, the Elements, my landbase, my watershed, and all the entities (corporeal and non) that share them with me. Connection to the Goddesses and Gods. Connection to the Web of All. And because, like most American Pagans, I live in an urban area, I work on connecting — being in relationship with — my city. My city is Washington, the District of Columbia (often called D.C. for short). As I’ve discussed before, part of my practice is centered on Columbia, the patron Goddess of my city. She’s a fairly young Goddess (as Goddesses go), with fairly old roots. She’s closely related to the Roman Goddess Libertas.

One thing that Columbia doesn’t have yet is a well-known story of Her life. We know that Isis married Osiris, reassembled his body when it was dismembered, sang Osiris back to life, and conceived Horus. We know that Persephone was gathering flowers with Her friends when Hades abducted Her and took Her to the Underworld. Her mother, Demeter, wanted Her daughter back and refused to let anything grow on Earth until Zeus brought Persephone back to Earth, although Persephone returns each Autumn to the Underworld. We know that Quan Yin’s father wanted Her to marry a rich man, but She wanted to be a nun and live in the temple. Eventually, Her father had Her executed and She descended to one of the more unpleasant realms of the dead. There, Her kindness turned the realm into a paradise. She then became a Bodhisattva and hears all the cries of the world. But we don’t know much about Columbia’s life.

So, on July 4th, I did a magick working and meditation to learn more about Columbia. I’ve recounted the first two questions that I asked Her and Her answers here and here. The third question that I asked Columbia, was what one thing She’d like people to know about Her. I pulled the Five of Vessels (Ecstasy) card from the Wild Wood Tarot. In a traditional Tarot deck, the Five of Cups card shows bereavement, disillusion, repentance, regret. There’s none of that in the Five of Vessels. Here’s the card.

Picture found here.

The Wild Wood Tarot book says:

Meaning: The beat of the universal drum is heard in the soul and it is healthy to surrender for a time and to join in the dance. Energy is renewed by bathing in the cosmic life force of exultant and sincere ecstasy.

Reading Points: Many avenues are open to the Wanderer to commune intimately and ecstatically with great beauty or to be intoxicated by an intensely personal connection with the divine. Music, meditation, art, love, dancing or a profound sexual experience can inspire and induce the sacred trance of enlightening ecstasy. This powerful and euphoric awareness is utterly natural and a well-established aspect of shamanic traditions. States of ecstatic trance can sometimes be triggered by extreme physical exertion or the quiescence of the superficial consciousness, so as to gain access to a deeper and more profound comprehension of everything. Sadly, the concept of spiritual ecstasy has been damaged by the common use of drugs that imitate (for a short time) the endorphin rush of an authentic and natural ecstasy. The ecstatic trance has been described as a delightful possession or a mysterious union with a timeless exuberance. The fusing of the spiritual being with a profound and loving universal mind elevates the soul to the space between spaces, where poetry breathes through you and exultation and stillness effortlessly coexist.

What I see when I look at the card is a very young woman, maybe even a teen-aged girl. She’s completely given herself over to the ecstasy of some ritual (maybe initiation?). The place where she’s dancing looks a bit like a dried river bed. Is she doing a working for rain? Although her dance is confined to the space of a pentacle (which mirrors the five-pointed stars that adorn Columbia’s helmet in her statue in Washington, D.C.), she’s one with the whirling stars of the Milky Way and with her own inner vision. It reminds me of Maria Montessori’s teaching that, “From the greatest discipline comes the greatest freedom.” She carries a thyrus, often associated with Dionysis, symbolizing her ecstasy, and a rattle with a face, perhaps to provide rhythm, symbolizing her discipline, for her dance. Again, discipline and freedom, upon one tether, and running beautiful, together.

The answer to my question seems to me to be that Columbia wants people to know how much fun She’s having, how ecstatic She is, and the deep ecstasy available to Her devotees. And that She’s still young, still able to dance all night under the stars, still in love with It All. And, that She moves and has influence within the correct sphere, space, ritual.

What does the card say to you about Her? Are there deities or land spirits you associate with the place where you live? Do you have a relationship with any of them? What are their stories?

Picture of Columbia found here.

Thanks to Medusa for telling me about Selena Fox’s great article on Libertas, linked above.