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Renewing the Craft of Magic

Posted on:  Oct 15, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess

A fire burns at the center of our large, ritual circle, its saffron flames and feral sparks spiraling into the night sky. One of the teaching priestesses at Reclaiming witchcamp stands in the center, speaking of our ancestor witches, the powerful ones who practiced the Craft in the distant past. She tells us that their magical words and practices were lost from us; our lineages were destroyed through centuries of repression, persecution and the atrocities of the Burning Times. But the world has changed, and we are awakening and once more practicing the Craft of our ancestors, renewing what  was lost and creating new traditions that can be passed on to future generations.

We’re the waking witches. The powers of the ancients still sleep in our cells and our souls. It’s time to return to our sacred heritage of the Craft of magic.

Then she spoke the words we use to cast our circle, “By the Earth that is Her body. By the Air that is Her sweet breath. By the Fire of Her bright spirit. By the Waters of Her living womb. By all that is Above, and All that is Below, our circle is cast. We are between the worlds. What changes our world, changes all worlds.”     

Her words cut through me, with a mixture of pain and pride, for what has been lost and what we were collective rebirthing. We were now the voices of the ancestors, renewing the Craft and reweaving its mysteries for these times. I felt the power of our casting in the rippling outwards of the resonant power of the spoken words. There was a reverence in the air, as if the Universe itself, and all those that had practiced witchcraft before us, were sacred witnesses to our stepping into the empty space left behind by the ancient ones.

We are the waking witches. The magic of the ancients still sleeps in our cells and in our souls. Mother Earth is hungry for those who know how to dance Her mysteries. Our ancestor witches cannot go to their rest until we, their descendents, return to our sacred heritage. We are saplings once more reaching for the sunlit world, stretching our limbs, anchoring our roots and flexing our powers.

May we trust ourselves to renew and rebirth the Craft for the dire needs of the precarious edge our humanity and Earth home rides. May we hone our mastery in service of our souls and the world soul. May we serve the powers of life with presence, grace and humility. And may we grow strong and cast our circles wide and deep so what was lost can flourish once more in waking world.

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Artist: Melanie Delon (www.melaniedelon.com)

 

Season of the Sacred Feminine: The Wild Winds of Change

Posted on:  Oct 4, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess

Outside my windows, a wild wind is blowing. The trees bend and swirl in its fierce, unrelenting force. Somewhere on my island home, trees will be falling over with root systems exposed to the bright light of day, power lines shutting down, and homes returning to a simpler, natural ethos of candlelight and going to bed in synch with the descending darkness.

A wild wind is blowing in our world, unleashing a power born of the intensifying weather patterns of climate change along with a growing discontent with unpalatable political choices, increasing social and economic imbalances, and the stresses of our personal lives.

There are mysteries afoot, strong, beautiful counter-forces that whisper in our ears: the season of humanity is shifting. The Goddess is awakening within and without.

I feel it in my bones, in my soul and everywhere around me — it comes to me in my dreams, waking me at 4 am with visions of what is and what can be — a fierce and unrelenting force, eroding the pillars of our social order and exposing its root systems to the scrutiny of the sunlit world.

There’s rot in the roots of our human society, born of greed, corruption, manipulation, lies, ignorance, apathy and fear. So much of what was hidden in our cultural fabric has come to our collective awareness. We have lost our naivety and trust in our social and political institutions. How we live our lives, individually and collectively, no longer works for most of us or for our planet home.

And there are mysteries afoot, strong, powerful, beautiful counter-forces that whisper in our ears: “the season of your humanity is shifting. The Goddess is awakening within and without. It’s time to live in accordance with the powers of life, and your best, most beautiful instincts. Do not despair. Turn your face back to Her living light and nurturing ways. It’s time; you are ready, you are ripe.”

This too I feel in my bones and in my soul — the season of the sacred feminine is upon us, bringing with it a return to a simpler, natural, life-centered ethos that puts love, people and the care of our Earth home above the reckless, egocentric pursuit of dominance, money and things.

When a tree falls down, the forest is opened up for the small seedlings to have their time in the sunlight. In death, there is a quickening where new life is called to the empty space left behind. Let us open to this wild wind of change. Let it strip away what no longer serves our lives and the life of our Earth home. Let us trust that a new season of the sacred feminine is upon us, and, though some pillars of our human-made world will fall, others, more caring and life-serving, will rise up in the empty space left behind.

Discover the Path of She for yourself.

Reclaim what you have lost, your true, beautiful Self and the life-giving mysteries of the Goddess.

The Goddess is awakening, and calling you home. Are you ready to heed Her call?

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Artist: Unknown

Our Whole, Holy Womanhood: A Death and Life Story

Posted on:  Oct 1, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess

I was born into a world that didn’t teach me what it means to be a woman in accordance with my true, sacred feminine nature and power. Instead, it made me see my womanhood as weak, small and inferior, meant to serve and please others. It taught me that power was an outside force, defined and imposed by others, that belonged to the realm of men.

Though I started my adult life on the wrong track, seeking my place and power in a masculine-defined world as an educated, career-focused business woman, my deeper Self had another plan that set me on the path of reclaiming the lost fragments of my whole, holy womanhood.

Our whole, holy womanhood is powerful, with the ability to hold the light, dark, life, death, beauty and wounding of our personal story and shared humanity.

I did feminist graduate studies, ran my own gender-equity consulting business, read countless books on women’s ways and Goddess theology, spent countless hours in therapy and personal development, moved away from the city to a small, rugged island to reconnect with Nature, practiced magic, went to witchcamp, and became a priestess, dreamer and daughter of the Goddess.

Still something essential was missing, connected to the dark, death powers of my sacred feminine nature. This is the story of when this precious fragment returned to me.

It’s the early hours on the day of the Winter Solstice. I jolt awake with the word “miscarriage” screaming in my brain. I dash to the bathroom to find blood coming from me that isn’t supposed to be there at week eleven in my pregnancy. My partner soothes me, and calms me down enough to take me to the hospital. Later that morning, an ultrasound confirms that our baby has died — a child we had consciously conceived and desperately wanted.

Our midwife gives us a choice: to stay in the hospital for a procedure or to let things run their course at home. I’ve been down this road before, having miscarried five years earlier. No one had told me then that thirty percent of first-time pregnancies end in miscarriage, nor prepared and coached me for this eventuality. We had gone the hospital route, and the experience had been disorienting and disempowering. This time would be differently; I would tend my own miscarriage.   

In the darkest hours of the night, in the turning before the new dawn, my womb begins to convulse, releasing the dead life within. For hours, with each release, I collect the tissues of our child in a one-quart mason jar, not knowing which would have been his perfect face, his beating heart, his tiny body, his reaching hands, and his sweet toes. There are no eyes for me to close, or lips for me to kiss goodbye. This indistinguishable flesh, mixed with my life-giving blood, is all my partner and I have to mourn and bury.

In the midst of my keening grief, I remember myself — witch, priestess, wise woman — Holy Whore, Holy Reaper — midwife to both life and death moments with the powers of creation and destruction within my living womb.

Like all transformative moments, I have a choice: I can collapse into my grief and loss, bleeding myself into oblivion, and following the wisp of my child’s departed soul, or I can become something new, something that I’ve been traveling toward in my many years of collecting and mourning the death bits of my life, and gathering back the shattered fragments of my womanhood.

Naked and aching raw, I lift my blood-stained hands to the returning light, trusting that to be fully present — to feel all and resist nothing — to claim myself and my life as whole and holy — that a new dawn, a new beginning will come.

And I change. I become big enough, wild enough, wise enough, powerful enough to contain my bottomless grief and my unbounded love, not only for this child I’ll never hold in my arms, but for my own wounding and my own beauty, and all the death bits I’ve suffered to arrive awake and present for this death moment.

This story isn’t just about my whole, holy womanhood, but about yours as well.  Our world has deceived us. We aren’t weak or small.  We aren’t inferior and beholden to men and their ways of power. Our purpose isn’t to serve and please others, although nurturance, care and compassion are part of our sacred feminine nature. Instead, we’re big and powerful in our own right, with the presence and capacity to encompass the light and shadow, life and death, and beauty and wounding of our personal stories and collective humanity.

These greater capabilities of our womanhood aren’t feminist fantasies. Our ancient feminine ancestors lived in accordance with their whole, holy nature. They were the red-cloaked ones, priestesses, leaders, healers and counselors that guided their communities through the natural cycles of birth, life, decay and death. Our very bodies have the powers to give and to take life. While our culture amplifies women’s ability to give birth, it completely ignores our innate capacity to terminate a pregnancy that isn’t viable. Miscarriage is natural; though it breaks our hearts, the babies our bodies reject were never meant to be.

My story has a happy ending. On this Winter Solstice, despite my heartbreak and the death and despair that threatened to overtake me, I reached for life and my whole, holy womanhood, and life reached back. I changed profoundly, becoming a woman and priestess of the light and the dark, and of life and of death. This deepened my healing journey, physically and spiritually, making me strong and present in new, empowering ways. I consciously prepared my womb and my heart for new life, and a couple of years later, as the seasons turned to Spring, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

PHOTO CREDIT: kamakebelieve.deviantart.com

Five Things You Can Learn From a Pagan

Posted on:  Sep 11, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Path Basics, Podcasts

In my mid-twenties, I was living a corporate, achievement-driven existence that neither fed my soul nor gave me joy. A series of synchronistic events conspired to wake me up and set me on a spiritual journey in search of the missing half of my womanhood and humanity.

My journey led me to Vipassana meditation, feminist graduate studies and new age spirituality. These were all powerful and transformative, and yet something was still missing for me: the feral, sensual, dreaming, witching, life-affirming sacred feminine.

One day it came to me: I am a pagan. This was the spiritual path that sang to my soul.

Paganism invites you to the realm of what else is true and possible. Take a little journey beyond the everyday and bring back whatever sings to your soul.

Paganism isn’t just about beliefs, it’s about stepping outside of the strictures of everyday reality and stepping into full-bodied experiences of the wild, magical world of what else is true and possible. After twenty-plus years of pagan explorations, these are five precious lessons that I’ve learned:

1. Life is delicious.

Paganism is a spiritual practice that calls us to a joyful, sensual communion with Nature and our bodies.

Take a walk on the wild side with your unruly, untamable pagan nature. Turn up your favorite music and dance from the inside-out. Eat a bowl of the ripest, sweetest fruit you can find. Make love to your partner as if you were made of one skin. Breathe the blue of the sky deep into your lungs. Spin yourself dizzy under the moonlight. Be radically, delectably, unapologetically alive!

Even in those bumpy times when your challenges and losses bring your down, remember that life is delicious and that there is always a brush of beauty to sweeten your sorrows.

2. The Earth is alive.

Paganism is defined by its earth-centered ethos. While our collective humanity has lost sight of the ways of the green world, pagans hunger to touch and be touched by the powers and splendor of Nature. And in this sensual, embodied exchange, we awaken to the living world.

Hang out in your favorite green space with your senses on high. Attune to your exchange of breath with the trees: their green breath of oxygen with your red breath of carbon dioxide. Open your flat palms toward whatever wild thing catches your fancy and sense the tingling meeting of your energies. Peer into the microcosm of a rotting log, with its teeming collective of interdependent inhabitants.

The Earth is alive. One web of life connects us all, breath to breath, and essence to essence. What your mind has forgotten, your body remembers.

3. The Goddess is everywhere, in everything.

I didn’t go looking for the Goddess. I set myself on the trail of my lost humanity and womanhood, and one day there She was, everywhere and in everything.

She is the burning ember of light interwoven with matter that shines forth in all living things. She is the unending, outrageous beauty of the wild world. She is the driving force that calls us to strive and struggle, and to grow and blossom. Her cupped hands hold us in the shifting seasons of our joys and sorrows, and life and death moments.

The Goddess’s deepest presence is love, not as an emotional state, but rather as the primal desire of life to seek out, create and nurture life. Through this love, all things are made holy and infinitely worthy. We are made holy and infinitely worthy.

Lift your face toward Her living light, open your heart to Her infinite love, take in Her green-drenched beauty and feel Her holy presence in your own shining soul, and know that the Goddess is indeed everywhere and in everything.

4. So without, so within.

Pagans celebrate the wheel of the year: eight sabbats that mark the turning seasons of Nature and their shifting balance of darkness and death with light and life.

Our life too is a shifting balance of light and dark, joy and sorrow, and life and death moments.

Ponder the seasons of your own life: the death-like times when darkness, sorrow and loss swallowed you whole, and other times when the sun was shining bright and life was rich and full. Dig deep and notice that the good things in life hold you in your darkest moments, and that your sorrows and challenges can make your high points all the more poignant and precious.

So without, so within; like the natural world, our humanity is woven of darkness and death, and light and life. And in this powerful truth, we can find our balance and wholeness in the face of life’s shifting seasons.

5. Magic is real.

Magic, in basic terms, is the ability to experience and work with the Mysteries (alternative states of being and knowing). Think of reality as a frequency dial that can tune into the astounding magical possibilities of the world around us: “normal”, everyday modes of consciousness fall within a specific frequency range; the Mysteries are engaged at different frequencies on the dial.

Pagan magic practices, such as ritual and spellcrafting, develop and deepen our abilities to turn the frequency dial and work in altered states of consciousness.

Be brave: turn that dial, step between the worlds and the Mysteries will show up, in all their wonder. Brave experience by brave experience, you can come to truly know that magic is real and a natural part of our humanity.

Don’t take my word for these things I have shared. Instead, think of paganism as an invitation into the realm of what else is true and possible. Take a little journey beyond the everyday for yourself and bring back whatever sings to your soul.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Law

The Call of the Goddess

Posted on:  Aug 31, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Goddess

Our bodies and souls know the Goddess — from our first yowl of breath as our hunger instinctively reaches for the softness of breast and nourishment of milk — to the last emptying of our lungs when we surrender to Her gaping maw of death — She holds, witnesses and loves us. For we are Her sacred children.

We turn our hearts back to the Goddess, reclaiming Her presence and powers within Nature, our inner landscape and in the mystery teachings of Goddess traditions.

After the harshness of winter, the blossom of chartreuse bud and wild flower return. The gentle dawn light follows the ebony velvet of darkest night. These things we know, can count on. Life cycles continually, miraculously from life to death to rebirth. Out of the vast potential of energy comes form, form inevitably decays and dissolves, only to be born again in new shapes and functions. These are the primal ways of the Goddess held in the dance of energy and matter.

Powers of creation, held in flesh, breath, beauty and love, as well as decay, destruction, loss and suffering. Life — delicious, sensual, terrifying, raw, fully experienced and embraced — precious, delicate, impermanent, holy — these are the embodied ways of the Goddess held in the dance of life light in our cells.

In our ancient past, we knew these things and held the Goddess and Her life-giving ways as holy and central to our ways of living and dreaming. Though we have stepped off of Her path and onto another, always She calls us to return to our true nature and beauty, and our best, life-serving instincts.

On the Path of She, we turn our hearts and knowing back to the Goddess. We rediscover and reclaim Her presence and powers that lie in wait for us — within the most secret, silent places of our inner landscape — among the wild, wide wonders of the natural world — and in the mystery teachings preserved in Goddess traditions.

As we open to our hunger for our own hidden beauty and power, we naturally unleash our more primal hunger to be one with the powers of life and the ways of the Goddess. We heed Her call, and begin to live and dream our life anew.

Artwork by Eleonor Piteira