“For the voice of the Goddess to be heard in our age, each woman has to find access to her own personal note and practice it until true harmony resounds.” Caitlin Matthews, Voices of the Goddess
As a Spiritual Woman, a Priestess and a Daughter of the Goddess, my personal and public practice has evolved to working almost exclusively with women in women-only circles and rituals. After several years of working in and leading mixed groups, I found that I truly treasured my time with women. In women’s gatherings, I was able to shed some of the masks that I inherently held in place when men were around. My emotions, my thoughts, my creativity all flowed in a greater way when I circled and performed ceremony with women. One of my greatest joys is to see the light of a Goddess Seed activate and flower within a woman, leading her to a deeper recognition and communion with her true self. As a Priestess, my mission has organically evolved to doing what I can to activate and nurture those Goddess Seeds.
Inevitably, the question “What about men? What about the Goddess for men?” comes along and to that I have a personal answer: I have to be true to the facet of service to which I am called. I have to honor the joy in my soul in facilitating Goddess connection with and for women. It does not mean that I have no consideration of men. It just means that my primary focus is on the counter-swing to patriarchy and working with women who are seeking the connection to Goddess. I believe that reclaiming Women’s Spirituality and Women’s Ritual is absolutely vital for the care and sustenance of a woman’s soul and when a woman is empowered and centered, there is a natural resonance with the rest of her life.
“The great silence has been broken at last. Women are coming together to cultivate the powers that can result from exploring matrifocal heritage, personal and collective mythology, natural healing, meditation, dreamwork, celebrating the cycles of nature (i.e.: our surroundings and our own bodies), and ritual. As we all bear scars from having been raised under patriarchy, the ability to heal ourselves and each other psychically and physically is essential to the growth of women’s culture.
Rituals can generate and transform tremendous fields of force. That energy is always there for us to tap and manifest. Rituals created within a framework of women’s spirituality differ in form and content from the empty, hierarchically imposed, patriarchal observances with which most of us grew up. They involve healing, strengthening, creative energy that expands with spontaneity from a meaningful core of values.” Charlene Spretnak, The Politics of Women’s Spirituality
What is Ritual?
We practice rituals everyday. There is a specific way in which we prefer our life to be ordered and we follow those patterns one might say…religiously. Whether mundane or magical, rituals follow a set of predetermined steps that have proven to bring about a desired end.
The definition of ritual has spanned centuries of debate and philosophy and crossed all religious boundaries. It has been said that ritual exploits human’s collective need for dialogue with their Creator. It has also been said that rites are simple paradigms for the emulation of Cosmic Principles. Above all, we should keep in mind that ritual is a human invention – a structure that has been erected to allow us connection with Divinity as we see it. Early humans instinctively sought to communicate with the forces of the Universe and placate them so that these forces would benefit humanity. Such was the first ritual born.
Ritual may be as simple as a prayer, the act of crossing ourselves. It may be a gathering for a guided meditation or more complex ceremonies following prescribed ritual practice formats within a tradition. Going to church on Sunday, meditating in nature, lighting a candle before reading a prayer, and gathering under the moon to celebrate the Goddess are all examples of rituals.
What is Women’s Ritual?
The time for creating, reclaiming and rewriting rituals by and for women is now. The Foremothers of the Goddess Spirituality movement began back in the 1960’s, lighting a feminist fire that has burned brightly to present day. Women’s ritual is the “extreme” notion that women can create and lead ritual without a middleman. It is the “revolutionary” consideration that we do not need a priest, rabbi, pastor, imam or any other human being to be the conduit to the Divine. By standing up and claiming our space, women are reclaiming positions as our own clergy and certainly as Priestesses of the Goddess, ministers, and spiritual leaders in our families and communities.
Importantly, Women’s Ritual is women-centric. It has created a call for and an answer to women’s needs to be in sacred space with other women; to share their women experiences and stories; to confirm that they are not alone. Societal masks may be removed in women’s ritual and in groups of all women; there is no need to filter what is shared.
“Feminist ritual practice is currently the most important model for symbolic and therefore, psychic and spiritual change in women. Certainly ritual is an idealized microcosmic experience, but it may be an endurably important means of invoking a new order of things in the macrocosm. At the very least, it has been a useful mode for envisioning what a different world for women might ‘feel’ like.” Kay Turner, The Politics of Women’s Spirituality
Why Women’s Ritual is Different
I believe there are several components to a women’s circle that allow us more freedom to shed our mundane personas and truly embrace our inherent power and embody the Goddess.
First, in a group of all women, there is safety (or there should be). We have all had common or at least common enough experiences that empathy and compassion flow naturally. We can be ourselves – we can be as silly, serious, intellectual, bitchy, angry, and joyous as we want.
Second, emotions are not shunned in a women’s circle. They are shared and acknowledged and celebrated. This is a space where we can expose our symbols and Goddess Selves openly without fear of repercussion or judgment.
Third, women are a reflection of the Goddess as Creatrix. Our blood mysteries and the ability to nourish and give forth new life are unique to women and within women’s rituals, we may celebrate and embrace all of those mysteries as sacred.
A women’s circle that is serious and focused is capable of raising enormous amounts of energy and dispersing that energy appropriately. We each become the Creatrix, giving form to the forces of the Universe. This is a natural state for women that we have forgotten.
For the first time in centuries, we may worship unfettered (in most places). Our Light and the Light of the Goddess within us does not need to be hidden. We are also rediscovering a community of women without the chains of patriarchy – we do not need to be in competition with each other. We can reclaim and honor the Goddess in each other – we can revel in the strength and beauty that is within ourselves and mirrored in the faces that we see in the circle around us.
As we take steps to fortifying ourselves and each other, we are fortifying the Goddess and grounding the Divine Feminine back onto this plane.
The work of changing social, political, and economic conditions begins with changing our self-images and this is what we are seeking to achieve within our women’s ritual. Together we have untapped resources that may truly change the world. It is a small wonder that patriarchy has radically sought to subdue our true selves and brainwash us into self-loathing and competition with each other.
Women’s Spirituality is teaching us the reality of Re-membrance and Transformation. By acknowledging the divinity within ourselves – the Goddess – we acknowledge the inherent power that is within us. We no longer need to stumble alone in the dark in pain and anger and shame – we can reach out and take the hands of our Sisters and acknowledge the pain, anger and shame; name it; feel it; and release it. We borrow our Sister’s strength to transform and then are ready to lend ourselves to her transformation as well.
Imagine a world where women are equal and respected; a world where our children are safe. If we can Imagine it, we can Create it. We have access to powerful images and forces and we need to use them to order and maintain our visions and, one day, our realities. Let us begin hand in hand – Women and Goddess – always together.
Why Women Need the Goddess by Carol P. Christ
Sacred Circles: A Guide To Creating Your Own Women’s Spirituality Group by Robin Deen Carnes