Posted on:  Nov 29, 2023 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess
Words are a fundamental part of our humanity. The physiology of our brains is designed to make sense of ourselves and our world through language. We name things with words, and then load value and meaning onto these names. Every aspect of our shared society, interpersonal relationships and inner self-talk are dictated by these word-names.
There’s immense power in names. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the names people give to us, and the ones we give to ourselves. This naming can either narrow or expand who we are, and how we engage others and our greater environment.
Oppressors, those who conquer, dominate and control others, have used this power in names throughout history. Take away the names people give to themselves — taint and distort them, make these names a weapon — replace them with other, socially acceptable, domesticating names — and you’ve set up a system of control that becomes a normal, entrenched part of our social fabric. And not just names are taken away, but also language, story, dance, art, and other forms of culture, self-identity and expression.
All marginalized groups — on the outside of the white, male, heteronormative, Judeo-Christian ethos that dominates our Western society — have been impacted by this system of control through names.My Story of Names
I’m a white woman of British descent, born into a working class family of moderate means, and raised in a middle-of-the-road city in the eastern part of Canada. My upbringing was mainstream, banal and seemingly innocuous. And this is my story of names.
If I had the conscious awareness to name myself in my youth, I would have called myself a good girl.
I was a domesticated creature — nice, sweet, pretty, and well behaved. I did what I was supposed to do: work hard at school, follow the rules, hang out with other nice girls, date boys that my parents approved of, and keep a smile on my face, even when boys and men said and did not nice things to me.
No one in particular, and everything around me, gave me this name and the very narrow band of personhood that went with it.
In my early adult years, I named myself professional woman.
This was just another form of my good-girl domestication, set by a hyper-masculine corporate environment.
I had the right qualifications to excel: an MBA, competitive instincts and workaholic drive. The price of admission was to mask my womanhood in an androgynous wardrobe of black, gray and navy suits, to emulate the work-hard, play-hard ethos of the successful man, and to keep a smile on my face, even when men diminished and sexualized me.
Like so many women, these straitjacket names of good girl and professional woman squeezed my bigness of being into a half-life dictated by rules that I had no say in, and that were designed to keep me small, tame, fearful and disconnected from my true nature.
In my late twenties, something woke up in me and I found a new name for myself: feminist.
I rebelled. I wanted to live an authentic life, in alignment with my undomesticated womanhood and my true, deep Self, outside of the dictates of a male-dominated, woman-negating society.
With this new name came seismic shifts. I left my corporate career and returned to graduate school to become a feminist academic, studying power, change and organizational gender issues. I became educated about the deep-rooted and daily discrimination faced by women, and the negation and undervaluing of the qualities and skills we bring to society and the workplace; and I made a commitment to myself to become an agent of positive change.
In my early thirties, as this journey of claiming my true, undomesticated womanhood deepened, I found another new name for myself: witch.
Again, this new name came with immense transformation. I discovered the Goddess and Wicca, and with them a whole, hidden story of feminine Divinity and power, and a wild, delicious, empowering, life-centered reality that was the antithesis of my years of domestication.
My world became infinitely bigger and more nourishing. For the first time in my life, I felt whole, inside-out powerful, and my Self.
Now in my early sixties, I fully inhabit my reclaimed name: woman.
Piece by piece, I’ve been reclaiming the lost fragments of my true, untamed womanhood, until I’ve come to know and honor my Self as woman, outside of the strictures of a society that fears and distorts women and feminine-based power.
I now know that my womanhood is a complex thing, woven of many, diverse threads: feminist, witch, writer, dreamer, dancer, wild thing, mother, partner, friend, ally, and so many other things that are too big and mysterious to name.
I’m whole, sacred, a being of infinite love and resilience, honed and evolved through my personal story and shared woman history of light and shadow, beauty and wounding, and the wonders and horrors of this mundane and magical world.
The outer voices have lost their control over me and there’s no squeezing me back into the half-person I’ve been. Woman I am, and woman I will be, on a journey of self-discovery and evolution that will last all the days of my life.The Power and Shadow of Names
In my journey of names, my life and womanhood were profoundly, positively transformed when I shifted from the names of good girl, and its adult variant of professional woman, to feminist and witch. Yet I was discouraged from claiming these names for myself by well-meaning friends and family members.
In our shared culture, feminist and witch are dangerous names, weighed down by negative projections and horrific histories. Good girls — nice, sweet, pretty, and well behaved — are safe, happy, and well-adjusted. Free-spirited, empowered women — feminist, witch, or any other name you choose to give yourself outside of the dictates of a male-centered society — are an aberration, heretical and dangerous.
This negation of uppity women has been burned into our collective psyche, literally. During the Burning Times of the 14th to the 18th century, the name of witch was demonized by the Church and used to justify the brutal rape, torture and murder of an estimated sixty to hundred thousand people, predominantly women — healers, practitioners of witchcraft, community leaders, independent women and other marginalized people caught up in the madness. Any indication of women’s spirituality, feminine-based power or an uppity nature could condemn you as a witch.
These horrific events have left a deep scar and shadow on our human psyche through our fear and distrust of women and feminine-based power.
Call yourself a feminist and you tar yourself with the societal stereotype of the feminazi: an angry, aggressive, male-hating woman battling for female supremacy.
Call yourself a witch and you conjure up the frightening specter of the wicked witch: an evil, devil-worshipper who uses their power to harm others.
These are lies and distortions that feed on our fear and distrust of women and feminine-based power. To use these names is to risk misunderstanding, discrediting, censure, and rejection. But to not use them when they speak to your soul and true Self is to remain small, silenced, powerless and domesticated.
What my story of names taught me is that there’s only one way to release the power in a name, be it feminist, witch or whatever power names we claim for ourselves and community: confront and step past the shadow in these names, and claim them as our own, not just for ourselves, but also in service of our greater society.Your Story of Names
How we name ourselves and others matters deeply. These names can either trap and diminish us, or heal and free us to become more fully, deeply our Selves.
You can start by exploring your own name story and those that apply to the groups you’re part of. Consider the defining features of your humanity, for example: your biological gender and gender identity, skin color, sexual orientation, ethnic and cultural heritage, religion or spiritual practice, socio-economic status, and the history of your people.
What names have been used to domesticate and marginalize you and the groups you’re part of? What names have empowered you and helped you grow and evolve? What names do you choose for yourself? What are the shadow and power in these names? How can you heal and reclaim these names? How can you support others, especially marginalized groups, in healing and evolving our collective names and language?
Your journey of names is a lifetime in the making. The more consciousness you bring to this journey, the more you can find and claim the names that capture your true, deep Self, and heal the shadow in the names that can set you and others free. And perhaps someday, names will be used to connect us to ourselves and each other in power and beauty, and in the making of a better, kinder, saner world of acceptance, love and justice for all.
Artwork by Nick Gentry
Posted on:  Nov 27, 2023 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Path Basics
I don’t care that your politics, religion or spirituality differ from mine, or about any of the myriad of particulars that mark us as dissimilar. I honor that how you walk this Earth is your personal business. But I do care, from the depth of my soul, about creating a better, more loving and sustainable world together.
So let’s step to one side of the conflict and camps of difference, and meet in the good.
Meet me in the inside-out living of our best qualities and nature.
Meet me in embracing the beauty and power of our differences.
Meet me in acts of kindness and goodwill toward our fellow human beings.
Meet me in resisting the tyranny and abuse of others wherever it shows up in our lives.
Meet me in falling deeply in love with the Earth, and in protecting Her fragile, essential systems.
Meet me in the smell of fresh baked bread, the laughter of children, the kiss of wind and sunshine on exposed skin, the sweet bite of a crisp apple, and the brilliant orange-pink light of a new dawn.
Meet me in the good inside and all around us, just waiting for us to turn our faces back to a love- and life-centered ethos.
Meet me in the good and together we can create our lives and this world anew.
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Artist: Sergey Shenderovsky
Posted on:  Nov 18, 2023 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Pagan Dreamer
There are three characters in this dream. The first one is me. I see myself in an empty, white space. A document appears before me that is “the Truth.” This Truth is immensely powerful; it rules everything in my life, both my inner world and relationship with myself, and my interface with others and my outer environment.
The second character is the Editor. I can’t see this character, but they make changes to the Truth document. In bright yellow, the Editor highlights the distortions and lies that have been inserted into the Truth document. There’s only one Truth; it can’t be changed or replaced. But it can be messed with
In their actions, the Editor makes visible the third character: a shadow force I will name the Oppressor. The Oppressor wants to control and manipulate my existence. They can only do this by slipping lies and distortions into the Truth that directs my life.Dream Teaching
I’ve long understood the message in this dream. There’s no escaping the fact that our human lives are ruled by what we hold as true and real: the Truth document in the dream. This Truth holds our contract of how to live our life. It can limit or expand us, imprison or set us free. And the choice is ours.
But we’ve forgotten that we’re the masters of our own Truth, and that we ultimately choose what to believe in, and hold as real and true.
Whoever controls our Truth, controls us. Oppressors throughout history have understood this, and used their many powers to impose their version of the truth to control society and the lives of others. Nowadays we’re bombarded with constant outer noise, coming at us from the media, school, work, social groups, our family and the people who share our lives. And we distort our own Truth to help us cope with our painful, wounding life experiences.
This dream cuts to the chase of what it looks like to claim your Truth and your freedom to live on your own terms. Wake up. Make an ally of the Editor and their yellow highlighter. Pay close attention to the truths and beliefs that direct your life. Which feel good and true to you? Which serve your best interests and most beautiful human instincts? Which arise from love and make you feel cherished and empowered? And which do not.
Whatever feels untrue, unloving and disempowering to you, banish it from your Truth, and take away its power to control you. You get to choose the Truth you live by. This power belongs to you, and always has. Claim it. Revel in it. Be ruthless in your pursuit of Truth. This is the way you set yourself free, and live from your best, most beautiful Self outward.Lesson in Pagan Dreaming
Dreams arise from the realm of Truth. When we slip into sleep, we enter a different reality, deep, ancient, wide, wild, that doesn’t care about our modern human world and concerns. It isn’t touched by the lies and distortions that mess up our waking understanding of Truth.
Sometimes this dream reality offers up a precious revelation, like this dream, that simply, powerfully reveals what it means to be human, and gifts us with a lesson to guide our deepest healing and transformation.
The empowered response to a dream like this is to simply say yes to its invitation and challenge, even if you don’t understand how to go about making these personal changes. Don’t worry, with your yes, your dreams will continue to guide and deepen your spiritual work of claiming your Truth. Because this type of dream is not only a revelation, but also a promise of more gifts and lessons to come.
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Artwork by Georg Janny
Posted on:  Nov 10, 2023 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Everyday Magic, Featured, Path Basics
The media feeds us an ongoing narrative of the horrors of humanity: war, political corruption, environmental devastation, mass shootings, to name but a few. Yet our lives are also touched by acts of philanthropy, creative expression and everyday goodness by the bright-souled, golden-hearted people in our midst. Between these polarities, we are left disoriented, torn between repulsion and reverence for these base aspects of our human nature.
Who are we as a species? Are we beauty or are we beast? Does fear or love drive us? What rules our world and our lives – an ethos of domination and destruction, or of nurturance and creation? And what do we make with our pain? Beauty and goodness, or more horror and pain?
I want to reach out and touch your heart. To feel your warm flesh and pulse under my palm. I want to tell you everything is going to be okay. That we can figure this out, we can find our way through the madness and destruction that dominate the headlines, and align ourselves with those that come into this world to spread goodness and beauty.
But I can’t. Because we live in a turning moment, a time of choice between all that we are and all that we can be.
Individually and collectively, we need to stop being afraid, stop judging and stop insulating ourselves from the raw truths of our joy and our pain. And hardest of all, we need to accept that the horrors the media feeds us and the beauty that touches our everyday lives are both expressions of our inner humanity.
In this acceptance, you can come to understand that you are not separate from the beastly and the beauty out there in the greater world. Your life story is woven from the best and worst of your personal history and makeup. And you, like every one of us, were born into and entrained within a collective ethos that produces terrorists, mass murders, poets and philanthropists.
What do you do with your personal pain? What do you do with your gifts and opportunities? Do you make more sorrow and pain for yourself and others? Or do you allow life to teach you, and help you blossom and grow into your true, big, shining self.
It all comes down to the imperative of choice making. In the face of the suffering and joy, and light and shadow of your life story, what do you choose?Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.
Artist: Karina Pavlova
Posted on:  Nov 6, 2023 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess
The same message — one that seems simplistic and naïve at a quick glance — comes to me over and over again: to mend our soul and heal our world, we need only show up to the love that is Goddess, that is life, that is here, now, all around and within us.
This message first came to me in a group trance led by Starhawk at a spiritual retreat focused on being a positive agent of change in these turbulent, evolutionary times:
Our intention for the trance is to seek guidance from the Mysteries on how to shift the destructive ways of humanity. A sense of urgency and despair fuels our magic. The human world is a mess. We are destroying the planet. And time is running out.
As we close our eyes and begin to visualize together, someone suggests we head to the East, the direction of new beginnings. A path appears that leads to a broken-down stone castle, overrun with vines and weeds. People see and name what appears to them in this desolate place.
But I see only one thing: a voluptuous, naked Goddess floats above the ruins, on Her back, Her legs spread wide, with a river of golden honey flowing from Her yoni — down through the broken castle, down the path we have traveled, and out into the waking world. The image is so unexpected and outrageous that I have to push myself to share with the group.
I have no idea what this vision means. There’s a sense of disappointment with some group members. When you’re looking for practical, concrete spiritual guidance, what do you do with a larger-than-life, honey-gifting yoni?
Yet the peace and grace in this vision stays with me — a seed of wisdom, of power, of hope, of ease — gestating in the secret depths of my inner landscape.Waking to Her Golden Love
Fast-forward several years and many powerful magical and life experiences later — the vision returns to me and this time I get it.
I’m at a community ritual. We’re working with the wild winds of change charging through our waking lives and world. Each of us gives voice to the Goddess.
This is what She says through me: “I am here; the awakening is now.”
What does this awakening look like in my life? Big endings: my dear friend is dying of cancer in the prime of her life, leaving behind her young family. Big new beginnings: I’m publishing my first book, Tale of the Lost Daughter. These immense events push me to the limit and split me wide-open, with the powers of death and creation turned on high.
What comes through this chasm is love — from the community that holds my dying friend and her family in a 24/7 circle of support — from the Tribe that gathers close to witness and charge my birthing of Tale of the Lost Daughter into the world — from my pagan-circle companions who weave magic between the worlds with me — from my beloved partner, son and family who are the beating-heart center of my life.
I feel this love viscerally; it’s thick and sweet and golden. It coats my skin, fills my lungs and overflows from my heart. I lavish it on others, unable to staunch its flow, and let others lavish it on me in return.
The Goddess is here. She is this love. I am this love. It is everywhere and in everything.Mending Our Soul — Healing Our World
Fast forward a few more years to the present moment. The human world is still a mess. We’re still destroying the planet. Time is truly running out. Urgency and despair are still our shadow companions.
The broken-down castle of the vision is real. We bear witness to it every day in the dysfunction, injustice and destructive roots of our political, social and economic systems, and in the heavy burden of personal pain most of us carry from our life experiences and family history.
I turn to the Goddess for inspiration and guidance, continually asking the question: how can I be a positive agent of change in these turbulent, evolutionary times? I open my heart, step out of the way, and let her flow through me.
And I find myself writing and speaking about your beauty, your goodness, your power, your love; these precious, precious things are your, and my, best offerings to this world. I don’t turn away from your wounding, or mine, or the pain and horror of this world. These too are part of our journey forward, cupped in that golden love that is Her greatest gift to us and our greatest gift to each other.
My heart aches, with love, with pain, with life, with death, and with all the moments in between. Each struggle is an opportunity, to show up, to see clearly, to speak truth, to be changed, to love, and love, and love more.
The golden-honey yoni of the Goddess is also real and ever-present, lavishing us with Her life-centered and nurturing love. We’re not separate from this golden love. We don’t have to earn it. Nor do we have to spoon it out to others in small measures.
My mind, the part of me that wants direct, concrete action, still doesn’t understand these things. But that doesn’t matter. We can’t change this world just by doing things differently. First we have to become something different. That difference is the golden love of the Goddess. We must embrace and live this love, be this love.
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