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Why I Still Need "Why Women Need the Goddess"

When I was a young woman in my early 20s, newly on a Pagan path, someone -- I no longer remember who -- put in my hands a copy of WomanSpirit Rising, edited by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow. I had discovered Goddess-centered Craft a year or so before, when I attended a Spring Equinox celebration and was slightly confused (and then elated) when no male Godhead was invoked. The idea of an explicitly feminist, overtly political, Goddess-centered spirituality excited me -- a young activist who was really coming into her own political consciousness and who had begun to heal the deep wounds left by a childhood spent in the Church of Christ, with its punishing Father God. 

Each essay in WomanSpirit Rising stirred me, but thenI got to Carol P. Christ's "Why Women Need the Goddess," and I read the words

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Thanks Susan. It is amazing how many people's lives have been changed by that little essay.
Pagan Trends, Absolute Truths, and Trusting Yourself

Trends change rapidly in the Pagan community. We often see "an indisputable fact" ricochet to its exact opposite within years. These "truths" cause immense discord. How can we navigate these treacherous waters without disavowing our own personal wisdoms? We all find our way of doing it. If I share mine, perhaps that might make finding yours easier. 

So, a story:

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Cannabis Craft | The Witchcraft of the Green Goddess

 

Entheogens, psychedelics, hallucinogens, and other intoxicants are connected with witchcraft because they help us to escape the trappings of the mind and aide in spirit flight. Witches have been working with herbs to alter consciousness for thousands of years and the story is no different today. What is different however is the availability of these substances. The legal drinking age in the United States is twenty-one, younger in most others. Medical marijuana is currently legal in several states and without question will become legal recreationally soon. Herbs like Salvia are also available in the large majority of locations as well as Ayahuasca in South America and abroad. Even mugwort and Mexican tarragon when prepared the right way can induce intense dream states. Modern witches have all of these herbs at our disposal with just a few clicks on the Internet so I thought I would share with you some safe and effective ways to work with the most popular of psychoactive herbs available, Cannabis.

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The Greening of Gaia

As Spring approaches and we find ourselves at another turn of the Great Wheel, opportunity abounds for making deeper connection to the natural world and Gaia’s greening of it. Gaia is seen as the maiden offering the promise of new life in a womb that is still developing and preparing for what will be birthed in full glory as the summer approaches and the peak of all living things is held in father sun’s gentle hold. It is Her sweet breath that breathes life into what lay in wait to be birthed and it is Her gentle hand that guides the process of renewal.

This time of reaffirming fertility and its progeny of new life marks the Spring Equinox. What was weighted more heavily at the time of the Solstice has now achieved a certain state of balance and equilibrium, before it seesaws once again towards one polarity’s weight. As we look around at our earthly world we can marvel at the cyclical nature of new life, maturity and the eventual harvesting and clearing which renders the ground fallow as quickening awaits its rhythmic cue. We have emerged from Winter’s hold of stillness and illusory death and now stand at the time of balance and the drawing together of what was and what will be in an organized and synthesized manner so that the promise of newly created life may flourish. 

Visually, Spring is the time of donning new color, shape and form. Gaia offers up the splendor of her multi-colored cloak as all manner of life bursts forth in texture and hue. The energy of this palette enlivens our being and the call to warmer air and out of doors activities entices even the most reluctant homebody. As life blooms all around you, how will you answer the call to take up the robes of nature’s finery? Where will you invest your energy in renewing what has lain dormant awaiting the gentle push of Gaia’s hand? Will you dare to step into the mantle of the Goddess that she has lovingly crafted for you and claim your place as co-creator in the greening of the world?

I invite you to take a journey with me as the Wheel turns…

The Greening of the Earth Pathworking:

Take a deep breath inhaling and allow the rhythm of your breathing to establish a gentle and regular pace. As you deepen into this relaxed state you shift your awareness to your inner screen. As you sit as observer you see a veil of pale violet mist form in front of you and as it parts you see yourself sleeping peacefully as the energy of the space builds around you. As you turn greater awareness to this sleeping image of yourself you merge to become one with it and are now the active participant. You awaken to find yourself in the middle of a dense and green forest just prior to dawn. You stretch and extend, feeling the cobwebs of restriction opening and giving way. The potent smell of earth fills your nostrils and the soaking heaviness of moisture fills your being as you drink thirstily. 

You sense that it is dawn and sunlight filters through tree branches in slender slivers of thread as beads of dew sparkle like small diamonds strung upon the finest silk. You sit up and pull yourself up to standing, again stretching and reaching upwards with breath coming in long deep inhales and exhales. You take a few steps forward and the soft ground below gives ever so slightly under weight of your foot. Your senses are keen and alert and it seems that you can feel every granule of dirt and leave and stone underfoot, despite the padded soles of your shoes. As you move forward, the light grows brighter with each step and you find yourself in a clearing. The ground is still covered in a light bed of thin mossy green and patches of dried grass and you know that this field will be full of flowers and butterflies in just a few weeks. This image flashes quickly before you and then returns to the space of fertile ground that will soon peak. 

You close your eyes for a moment and feel the last nip of winter’s cold air pass over you, quickly followed by a warm breeze that is light and airy. You open your eyes and see a few yards ahead of you the form of what appears to be a young girl. The sun is directly behind her and flashes brightly in your eyes, making clear definition difficult. You see that she is approaching you and you take a few steps forward in greeting to meet her. 

As you move closer, you now have the impression that this form is not what you thought. There is resemblance to human form, but the energy and lightness of its quality seem otherworldly. As you move closer still you can now discern that this shape of a young woman is the movement and gentle breeze of seed, earth, and leafy grass moving and swirling. You stop and your eyes follow the path of this unusual sight. Every area of the field it touches responds with the bursting forth of small shoots of flower and fragrant grass. Every area it passes over transforms into haven and home for bee, blossom and butterfly. The fragrant breath of tiny buds wafts delicately in the air and the gentle shape of this breezy maiden of flora moves with focus and precision. 

You close your eyes and simply rest in this energy of renewal and growth. You feel a gust of wind surround around and know that this maiden of Spring is now enfolding you in her transformative embrace. You feel the movement of her gentle breath clearing away the debris of what has lingered too long and is not of your best interest. You smell the fragrant and fertile earth of planting that is awakening the seeds of potential within you. And, you feel the weight of her cloak of greening as it presses against your skin reminding you that you too are part of this cycle of new growth. 

You open your eyes and look down at the beauty of the mantle she has placed about you. Tiny leaf and budding flower are woven into a tapestry of vine and slender root. The smell of new verdant life is intoxication and you revel in the finery that Gaia has gifted you with. You feel the gentle kiss of a butterfly’s wing, fresh from the slumber of its cocoon and you know that another turn of the sacred wheel has been rendered. You take a deep breath in, filling your lungs with the freshness of a Spring day’s promise and as you exhale, the cloak falls away and you are once again standing in the open clearing that has yet to be birthed from Spring’s womb. 

You sigh into a deep exhale, knowing that the greening will occur as it has every cycle and that you will be active participant in welcoming the warming tides. A single stream of air encircles you and you know this is the blessing of Gaia and the promise of her transformative magick. As these thoughts flood through you, a violet mist forms around you and the landscape gently fades from your sight. You become aware once again of your inner screen and pull that awareness back into the sensations of your physical state. Each breath of inhalation draws the energy of the space in which you are sitting back to your conscious awareness. And, each exhalation brings focus back to the gentle and easy rhythm of your breath. Continue in this manner for several more breaths, and when you are ready, gently flutter your eyes open and be fully present and enlivened by Gaia’s Mantle. 

Blessings of the Equinox and the promise held in this time of balance. 

Image: Gustavo Soto
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Goddess Rising

One day the Goddess went away.

The Moon wanes away into darkness. The seed goes down into the soil. Summer descends into Winter.

Each Spring, we too descend. Into the Underworld we go. We seek Her, we find Her, and we bring Her back.

There was a time in history when it seemed that the Goddess had gone away.

So we descended into the Underworld. We sought Her, we found Her, and we brought Her back.

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  • tehomet
    tehomet says #
    Beautiful.
The Wheel of the Year, a spiritual touchstone.

When I first began my Priestess training, forming a personal relationship with the wheel of the year: the four major elements, their corresponding season and corresponding Goddess archetype, is what lit me up and inspired a new way of being in the world for me.

 

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Sacred Feminine or Goddess Feminism?

In recent years “the Sacred Feminine” has become interchangeable with (for some) and preferable to (for others) “Goddess” and “Goddess feminism.” The terms Goddess and feminism, it is sometimes argued, raise hackles: Is Goddess to replace God? And if so why? Does feminism imply an aggressive stance? And if so, against whom or what?

In contrast, the term “sacred feminine” (with or without caps) feels warm and fuzzy, implying love, care, and concern without invoking the G word or even the M(other) word--about which some people have mixed feelings. Advocates of the sacred feminine stand against no one, for men have their “sacred feminine” sides, while women have their “sacred masculine” sides as well.

Nothing lost, and much to be gained. Right? Wrong.

Perseus with the Head of Medusa: Sacred Masculine?
Perseus with the Head of Medusa: Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine?

When Goddess feminism emerged onto the scene, it had a political edge. It was about women affirming, as Meg Christian crooned in “Ode to a Gym Teacher,” that “being female means you still can be strong.” Goddess feminism arose in clear opposition to patriarchy and patriarchal religions. It was born of an explicit critique of societies organized around male domination, violence, and war; and of the male God or Gods of patriarchal religions as justifying domination, violence, and war. In this context, “the sacred masculine” was not understood to be a neutral or positive concept. To the contrary, the male Gods of patriarchy were understood to be at the center of symbol systems that justify domination.

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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Carol, thanks for encouraging the idea that making readers comfortable is not necessarily the honorable thing for a wordsmith to d
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Thanks Lisa.
  • Lisa Sarasohn
    Lisa Sarasohn says #
    Thanks again for your elucidation, Carol. In the past, I've titled my workshops "Embodying the Goddess" and "The Goddess In Our Mi
  • Lisa Sarasohn
    Lisa Sarasohn says #
    And for a stirring performance of the song, see https://youtu.be/MQrC2pEalJ8
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you, Lisa. I'm glad that young people are still singing it, in all the languages of the world. And thank you, John.

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