Aspects of the Goddess, Aspects of Self

There are several different ways to perceive the Goddess.  Some prefer to see her as an unknowable being and as the feminine balance of Spirit.  On the other hand, I and other practitioners agree with that sentiment but also break her down into different archetypes of women.  Some use the Triple Goddess model, others figures from Classical or Modern mythology, and many use both.  

Sometimes practitioners get caught up in one part of an aspect of the Goddess.  For example, you can look at Aphrodite as a Goddess of love and pleasure alone.  Yet that’s a mono faceted way of looking at her.  Aphrodite has a dark side, too.  In many of her myths she is ill-tempered and mercurial.  Each aspect of the Goddess has a personality of her own, with many strengths, weaknesses, and roles.  Too often, we get caught up with the desire to have a perfect deity with no flaws or quirks.  Yet, denying the imperfection of the Goddess is like pretending part of her doesn’t exist.  

All to often, we do the same thing when looking at ourselves.  We feel a particular label or adjective describes our entire personality.  I know I am guilty of this.  I like to think of myself as a mysterious, sexy, and smart woman.  And all that is true.  Yet, most of my friends and family would describe me as “cute.” This used to get under my skin and annoy me until I seriously examined who I am.  I mean, I’m currently wearing a Peanuts tee shirt with my hair in a ponytail and do get enthusiastically excited about just about everything.  Okay maybe they have a point…

Now just like the Goddess, a person’s personality has its dark parts.  For myself, I struggle with anxiety and depression that consumes me at times.  I also can be a little prejudiced against pretension and am a bit of a gossip.  I am not perfect, but I don’t mind.  My imperfect bits are just another aspect of who I am.

I encourage everyone to take a look at the Goddesses and Gods you work with and reexamine their personalities.  While you’re at it, take this Mabon and Samhain seasons and look at yourself.  Have you been missing out on a stronger connection with them because you never realized they’re just like you?

© Ariadne Woods

Advertisements

Spirituality During Emergencies

The four most stressful life events are death of a loved one, divorce/breakups, relocation, and illness although there are many others including the ever-present threat of Community being canceled (six seasons and a movie).  Sometimes these circumstances have serious, long-term consequences: depression, financial instability, isolation, loneliness, anxiety, relationship problems, anger, frustration, destructive behaviors, over/under eating, sleep deprivation, insomnia, etc.  But one of the worst ones is the effects on faith.

For some people, crisis brings people closer to their gods.  They use them as a comfort from all the crazy.  But that does not happen to everyone.  Some people back away from their faith.  The universe fucked them, so fuck the universe!  There are a lot of reactions in between, too.  All of these are valid and normal outlooks on the divine after something has happened.  So if you are going through something, don’t freak out if your view on your gods has shifted.

For myself, I tend to pull away from my faith with varying degrees depending on the situation.  However isolation is how I deal with crisis.  I like to hide in my room with tea and Charmed reruns.  In a way, I have to learn to adapt to the change on my own terms.  But bit by bit I come back to the world.  I know things are going to get a little better when I feel the strong urge to evolve my wardrobe to suit the new version of me.  When it comes to my relationship to my gods and goddesses, I always feel the need to do a little damage control to counteract any offense.  But if I am being completely honest none of the deities I work with have every gotten offended if I have to pull away for a while and have welcomed me back with unconditional love and support.

Ultimately you need to follow your instincts and react accordingly.  If you want to do some Pagan-centric reading on grief and transition, I highly recommend Starhawk’s The Pagan Book of Living and Dying.

© Ariadne Woods

Writing Rituals

There are numerous causes for performing a ritual.  It can be in observance of the Wheel of the Year or the monthly lunar cycles.  Women can create blood rituals to mark their courses; and other important rites of passage–birthing, coming of age, handfasting/divorcing, saging/croning, death, etc–can be ritualized as well.  Some Pagans, Wiccans, and witches also like to do rituals for the deities they work with and for other practices, such as for blessing objects.  Rituals can last from five minutes of thanking a deity to several workings over a long period of time, such as for a women creating, carrying, birthing, and carrying for a child.

For whatever reason you desire to perform a ritual, planning is essential to its success.  Depending on personal practice, convenience, and importance, the amount of prep work varies from five minutes to weeks of gathering materials.  Some can even take longer, especially for organizing a handfasting.  Despite the length of time, all prep work should go through a few steps:

  • Identify the Purpose: Why are you doing this ritual?  What are your motivations?
  • Consider the Elements:  Do you need to do a ritual cleansing first? Will you need to cast a circle?  What tools will you need?  What deities can you call on for aid? How much time do you have to dedicate to this practice
  • Check Your Supplies: Do you need a particular incense, herb, oil, or other tool?  Do you have it on hand, or do you need to buy it?  Just as importantly, can you afford it?
  • Documenting:  Do you need to write out a liturgy or can you free form it?
  • Research: If you need to, do you need to ask advice or do some readings before creating this ritual?

Once you have finished the ritual, sit quietly and reflect on the experience.  I like to journal about the ritual, which I can go back and read in preparation for future rituals.

© Ariadne Woods

Cycles, Rituals, and Women’s Spirituality

Today I noticed two things as I woke up.  The first was that it was roughly 65 degrees, sunny, and bright.  Later as I walked about campus, several of the trees have bloomed and the community has taken to the lawns and decks.  As I write this post I am sitting at my sunny bedroom window, which is thrown wide open.

The second is that my period came a day early.

It’s been ten years since I first woke up with it.  I do not really remember it in the same way I do graduating high school, my first legal drink, or my initiation into Paganism.  It blends with the roughly 120 other times my courses have come and gone.  I didn’t have a coming of age ritual, but rather my mom bought me a box of pads, made me a cup of tea, and told me to ignore it.

That casual, flippant attitude always bothered me, the way this life cycle is treated.  Even the word period makes me uncomfortable, as if the biological process of being a woman isn’t something a part of me all of the time.  It’s not just a week of every month.  I am always an aspect of femininity.

When I embraced Paganism, the connection with the female divine was by far the strongest pull.  It’s not that I wanted a deity as an epitome of perfect womanhood.  In fact, I wanted a goddess who understands that the balance of anger, peace, joy, sorrow, power, weakness, life, death, newness, and tradition.  The illusion of ‘perfect’ in deity is ridiculous because the universe is not perfect.

However, the universe is steeped in cycles.  Life to death, school year to school year, etc.  Part of what the divine teaches us is how they relate and transform every day life.  There is no ideal to be taught, but rather how to live within the ever-present rhythm of life and self.

The way I have connected with personal cycles is to create a series of rituals.  They are driven by the need to connect to deity throughout the month, year, and stage of life.  While I missed out on my coming of age, I celebrate every birthday, end of semester, and yes even ‘that time of the month’ with prayer, offering, and respect to the Goddess and God.  By connecting with the divine in the seemingly routine parts of life, I draw them closer into my world and in turn am drawn into theirs.

So today I am relaxing and enjoying being a woman with a large mug of tea.

© Ariadne Woods

Personal Forms of Goddess Worship

One of my favorite lines from The Charge of the Goddess says “Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.” This concept epitomizes freedom, creativity, and independence in Goddess worship.  While structured rituals have their place within Paganism, the deities recognize that there are no restraints on the sacred practices.

Now I don’t think everything we do glorifies the Goddess. Laundry, for one, is as mundane as life gets.  Acts of dishonor, deceit, and most forms of criminality are violations of personal and sacred ethics, therefore the God and Goddess aren’t going to like performing them in their name.

The question at hand is what constitutes worship outside of the circle? I think the answer is personal.  Since the inherent principle is from within, only you can know what glorifies the Goddess.

For me, there are a few activities that honors the Goddess:

  • Dancing alone or with friends
  • Climbing trees
  • Taking walks in my local park
  • Making food
  • Taking long baths
  • Drinking tea on my porch
  • Keeping in touch with friends and family

The key element to personal worship is intent.  Keep the Goddess and the God in mind and the act will be seen as what it is.  A beautiful expression of love and worship.

Reciprocity

The Goddesses and Gods fulfill many roles in our lives. They are our guardians and protectors.  They inspire us on many different levels.  They provide our beautiful earth and sky and sea.  They help us through dark times and through the blessings.  Whatever your relationship to the Gods and Goddesses, they have a powerful effect on your life.

In the spirit of Mabon, it is the time of year to thank them.  This action can come in a variety of ways:

  • Burning candles, herbs or incense
  • Pouring Libations
  • Volunteering for a neighbor clean up or at a soup kitchen
  • Giving a donation to a non-profit organization
  • Recycling

Give back for all you have received this year.

© Ariadne Woods