For the past couple of years, beauty and self care have been ridiculously popular especially products and recipes made from natural ingredients. Just the other day, I walked into my aunt’s kitchen to find my teenage cousin mashing up an avocado for a face mask. Trust me, the kid has zero interest in cooking or health food, but she was so enthusiastic to work with the things around her house to make her feel more beautiful. I have to chuckle Continue reading
This is the first of a four part series with tips and tricks to connect to all of the aspects of the Triple/Four-Part Goddess.
The Maiden Goddess is the youngest aspect of the Goddess. She is wild, young, unattached, excited, and carefree. She is the Goddess of the wild, the flowers, and of the hunt. The waxing moon is her symbol. She represents all of life’s beginnings and possibilities. In classical and mythological lore, the Goddesses Kore (Persephone) and Artemis correlate to this aspect. Continue reading
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
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
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
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
What it means to be empowered differs from person to person. For some, it’s taking strength in personal traits, such as confidence or modesty. For others, action and results remains the core part of their empowerment. All are completely valid and beautiful paths in becoming strong people.
To be empowered as a woman creates opportunities and breaks society’s “glass ceiling.” Today because of the tireless efforts of our mothers, grandmothers, and ancestors, there are women in high positions of every branch of society. Do we still have a lot of work to do, oh of course yes. But think of where we would be if the women that have come before us had not taken a stand to break the patriarchal structure of society.
For myself, I have found empowerment through two threads in my life. The first is my relationship with the Goddess. She has always been next to me, reminding me that I have value. As I believe in her, I believe in myself. I especially find this in work with my patroness, Persephone. Her story of her becoming Queen of the Underworld reminds me that even in the bleakest circumstances, you can find your strength and grow to love. The second is a series of fantastic examples of empowered women in my life:
- My grandmother: She pursued advanced education in a male-dominated field at a time when women rarely went to college. She also has been a source of encouragement in my life and instilled in me the value of faith no matter what religion a person may be.
- My boss: I met my employer almost 10 years ago and she’s a good family friend. Not only did she help me in my college search, but also gave me my first job. Her academic path is a similar to mine, so she has been a wealth of knowledge over the years.
- A Sunday School Teacher: When I was in middle and high school, my parents required that I attend Sunday school despite my extreme moral objections. Fortunately for me, my teacher picked up on the fact that none of her students wanted to be there and used the time as an open forum to discuss personal problems and current events. She treated every kid with immense respect, recognizing that our parents and teachers did not give us this luxury. And she set me on my political path. One day I got really upset about environmental policy (I still do) and when I asked her who could fix that problem, she simply said, “You.”
Men empower women as well by becoming living examples that the gender dichotomy is bull shit. For myself, I had a fantastic high school teacher who worked tirelessly to eliminate students’ preconceptions about gender hierarchy. He emphasized free thinking and self expression as tools to self empowerment.
Ladies, this is the month in which we celebrate these women and men in our lives. They have helped to form us and teach us what it means to live our lives on our own terms. As you are empowered, may you empower those around you and continue the cycle.
© Ariadne Woods