The Rowdy Goddess

An Ecstatic Vision of the Goddess, dancing in harmony with the Universe.

Archive for the category “Goddess”

Hibernation and Polar Bear Totem

polar bear swmiingPolar bears are hunters and survivors. They thrive in a wintery environment of frozen grounds and water. Polar bears are fearsome protectors of their young and aggressively forage for food in the water, town garbage heaps or wherever they might find nourishment and protection. They fascinate us with their size, power, habits and ability to adapt and survive.

Polar bear wisdom draws from their expertise in swimming, ability to thrive in a stark landscape and their attitude towards others of their kind. Polar bears are able to navigate the Earth’s magnetic line, emotional waters, and finding a way back from the brink of danger. Polar bear wisdom is about solitude and the ability to find sustenance in the most austere places. They communicate through dreams and understand life, rebirth, and transformation. They are good providers and protectors of their families and their wisdom informs defenses and revenge energy.

In the January 2008 Llewellyn Witches Calendar, I wrote, “Polar bears have adapted to a world where the cold is eternal and daytime and nighttime have no meaning. In the Arctic, the summers are 24 hours of light and the winters are 24 hours of dark. Unlike other bears, the polar bear is able to go into hibernation when food is scarce and become active when abundance returns, using what is called “walking hibernation.” They lower their temperature and hibernate as needed, for a few days or longer. Only pregnant polar bears seek the protection of a dean, and they create a two-chambered tunnel in the snow banks where they birth their cubs. Polar bear sleeping habits include naps; they often sleep for short stretches during the day, since their prey is active at night. Napping helps conserve energy which is swiftly expended as they hunt. They sleep during winter storms and they sleep after play.”

My own personal discovery of the polar bear was through shamanic journeywork. In a class, a classmate retrieved a power animal for me which turned out to be my guardian spirit: the polar bear. I had been to the National Zoo the week before and spent a long time at the polar bear habitat. You could walk underground and see them as they swam beneath the water. At the time, I was swimming a lot and I thought, “Polar bear is like me, flabby but graceful underwater!”

Come play with me on the long winters night
Come hunt with me through darkness and light.
Be strong with me in loving protection
Be fierce with me in introspection.
Find the rhythm of life and death
Find the heart of it all, in all its breadth.
Swim in the waters’ depths to transform and restore
Be fluid and tranquil as you change even more!
Come play with me on the long summers day
Let anxiety and worry float far away
Be one with the Universe, in love and grace
You are happiness and power, all in one place.

I MEANT to Do it That Way!

polar bear prat fall

My friends call some of my consistent and repeated sayings, “Gailisms.”  My family does too!  One of my favorites is:  I meant to do it that way, or I meant to do it that way, or [louder] I MEANT to do it that way!

I picked up this expression when I took belly dancing for awhile from the marvelous June Seavey.  She is a wonderful dancer and teacher, putting me at ease at once by saying that oriental dance is for every body and every body type.  She’s the leader of a troupe or two and performs exentensively.  And she’s a very kind teacher telling me once that “your hips just want to have fun.”

I am not a graceful person.  While I like to think I’m not clumsy, the fact of the matter is that I trip, walk slow, and generally look dorky in motion.  I don’t care, I love to dance.  My hips do want to have fun!

One session, June did a dance performance for us in full, beautiful costume.  It was wonderful.  Then she started demonstrating some of the pitfalls of live performance and how she recovered from it.  “Oh I dropped my veil,”  and she gracefully danced and picked it up, “And I meant to do it that way!”  And so on through several mistakes!

I have found this very useful in public speaking and in facilitating pagan ritual.  I have stumbled over words, knocked over a chalice spilling water, lost my place in a wedding ceremony,  forgotten essential ritual items, the candles won’t light and so forth.   In order to keep the flow of energy going as well as the flow of attention and intention, it’s important not to dwell on these as mistakes but as a bump that you go over and continue on.  Above all else, it’s important not to stop the ‘action’ and dwell on the error or waste time fixing what can’t be mended.  Thus, the coping mechanism [and comfort] is:  I meant to do it that way!

It is, of course, important to learn from your mistakes and do better the next time. It is not useful to dwell on the errors and castigate yourself. There’s no point in self flagellation and self-loathing, other than to make yourself feel bad. You pick yourself up, clean up and either start over or move on. If you need to apologize, you say so. Otherwise, just act like you meant to do it that way.

May your day be full of self blessing and whatever happens, you meant to do it that way!

Return and Moving the Rowdy Goddess

I haven’t done a blog post for 18 months.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, but perhaps I have too much to say.  Or something.  I’m a librarian and as one, I like to categorize, organize and generally create a coherent way of conveying information and thought.  That’s what stops me.  I have so many interest:  Wicca; embroidery; quilting; dogs; Goddessy stuff; books; shamanic practice;  reading; libraries; Tarot; divination; writing; and whatever else captures my grasshopper mind– a mind that hops from one thing to another and back again.

arachne at her loom

 

I want to write about life and creativity and whatever else comes to mind!  But how to organize it and make it coherent.  That stalls me.  So today, as ideas crowd through my head, I decided.  What is the Rowdy Goddess after all but an amalgam of all that things that make us goddess and make us rowdy?  So I’ve decided to toss it all in the cauldron and see what bubbles up and catches other people’s attention.  Some of it will bore you and some of it will interest you and it will be all woven together in a mishmash of what is found inside!  Rest assured that it will be rowdy.

So the new intention begins in a new space.  Hail and welcome.

Holey, Wholly, Holy

When I was in the seventh grade, I shot up seven inches from five-foot-nothing to five-foot seven. It took me years to grow out of my awkward phase. I believe I’m still in my clumsy phase. At that time, this awkward, coltish teenager was going to Sunday School at a largish Southern Baptist Church; we were new to the area and newcomers at the church. Everyone was very nice to the kids, though years later my parents told different stories. One bright sunny day, I overheard my Sunday School teacher talking about another girl in my class about what a wonderful girl she was. Apparently while her parents were away, she had kept the house clean and made sure that when her parents returned, they came home to a house full of fresh flowers.

I looked over at her on that sunny Sunday, as she sat gracefully in her pretty yellow dress with a hat covered in daisies on her head and envied her perfection. I was tugging at my homemade dress as I crossed my ungainly long legs. I didn’t have a hat…if I did, I wouldn’t be able to keep it perfectly atop my head. This girl was like an unattainable ideal of perfection. Neat, pretty, contained, and poised and very definitely not me.

I, on the other hand, was clumsy, sloppy, and unformed. I didn’t have any idea how a kid like me could fill a house with fresh flowers. How do you do that? We had a vegetable garden and dandelions galore, but fresh flowers?

I didn’t envy her, I was just regarded her with a sense of wonder. I knew I could never be like her so I didn’t set her as a standard. After all, she had one older brother, I have three younger ones. She didn’t have a sister and I do. Her mother didn’t work and mine did. Her family didn’t seem to have money problems and mine definitely did. There was really no similarity between us. I think what had me bemused is what the church ladies set up as an ideal of a nice young woman-to-be. I didn’t talk to her because what would we have in common and what would I say to such a perfection?

Many many years later I took this delightful workshop from a woman named Jenny, Mary, or some such name. She was delightful–fun, funny, and flawed. It was a great experience and I gained a great deal of insight from it. A few years later, attending the same retreat, I ran into her again. She had changed her name to some magical name like Morgan, Brigit, or something. She dressed in flowing robes and never cracked a smile. She spoke in hushed wise tones. Where was that delightful flawed woman I met before? “Oh,” I thought, “She got holy.” Of course, behind the scenes there were rumors of dissension in her circle and of behaviors that belied that holiness, leaving me to think her inauthentic to herself and to others.
A lot of times in spiritual circles as people gain more wisdom and insight, they believe that they must never show their flaws, their struggles or their problems. Somehow as spiritual leaders they must show only perfection. Sometimes their vision of what perfection is makes them seem inhuman.

I’ve never been able to achieve that level of holiness; I simply cannot maintain it. Spirit seems to demand that I live my life out loud, confronting me with issues in circle and in public, sometimes embarrassing ways. One of my circle sisters wrote me and thanked me for being her teacher, stating that what she liked best about me was that I was wholly human with bad moods and good. I treasure that comment while at the same time saying to myself, “thank you, I think.” It is true that I’m as honest about my struggles as I am about my accomplishments. In this way I do think I’m am wholly myself.

We are all divine creatures, with the spark of the goddess and the god within us. By living authentically, we keep our flames burning bright. I think about that girl in the daisy hat from long ago. I think her poise and composure were innate and she was finding ways to live authentically just as I was living my sloppy, awkward self. I think in order to be holy, we do need to live wholly ourselves. Our lives are the journey to wholeness and integration. Our lives are made up of accomplishments, of tatters and failures, of tepid responses, and of bright shining moments. This amalgam of success and failure blends together to create our divine wholeness. You cannot have one without the other. If you deny one, then the other will cast big shadows in your life. You may think you are fooling people, but the only person fooled is you. I have found that the Goddess is very demanding. She demands the level of holiness She shows to us. With all it’s dichotomy, contradiction, pain, joy and exuberance. She demands wholeness, a recognition of the holes as well as the full spaces. In this way, we can say, authentically, “I am Goddess, I am God.”

May you live your life out loud, joyfully dancing your holey, holy wholeness!

 

Are You Blogging About Me?

I’ve been busy. Last September I got married in a wonderful ceremony attended by friends and family. Even those who could not attend marked the occasion in special ways. It was wonderful. Mouse and I have been together for eight years now and formalizing our commitment has marked stronger relationship.

In January, Mouse had a mild stroke. Mostly it’s been okay but for about two months, life was focused and intent on surgeries and long term recovery. He’s doing fine with very few limitations and renewed interest in paying attention to diet and exercise. It’s all good. It’s actually a relief that both of us can say this out loud without feeling awful about it. It is what it is.

I’ll write about our new dogs later.

At one point when he was feeling low and I guess I was spending time on the computer/Facebook, he asked me “Are you blogging about me?” It was in a melancholy voice that said in subtext, I’m causing you so much trouble… are you writing about it. I told him that I never write about anything that is private between us. First and foremost, I handle the issues between us as between us. I don’t tell the world first. So as Mouse and I journey together through these changes, I’ll be talking to him rather than blog-verse.

Both of us are private people even if I am a writer and have become much more gregarious as I gotten older. Some issues stay private. The discernment between sharing lessons learned and honoring privacy is an ongoing lesson as well as a commitment made to others. It is a process of growth in understanding as well.

As a witch and priestess, I took vows not to reveal the names and addresses of those in my group, circle, or coven. This hearkens back to the custom of the old ways where it was very dangerous to be known as a witch. Even in this day and age, depending on where you work, live, and play it could be dangerous. Not just physically but also emotionally and economically. Each individual should be able to make the individual choice to reveal their spiritual practices to others.

Speaking as one whose spiritual path has been revealed by others a number of times, it can have an effect on professional effectiveness and even how the neighbors treat you and your kids. It pays to be smart.

I’ve learned about this spirit of anonymity from my life as a priestess, but the most compelling lessons are from my friends in 12 step programs such as A.A. and N.A. Anonymity is extremely important in these programs because each person’s journey with sobriety is individual and by daily/hourly choice. The immerse themselves in like minded community for solace, encouragement, and sometimes an anchor or lifeline. For those not in that community, we can’t know their journey at all. To have be revealed means exposure and judgment in some edgy, private, and tenuous situations.

It’s funny sometimes because I’ll realize that I am in the middle of these overlapping communities. Sometimes it’s not possible for my friends to explain how they know each other without revealing either AA affiliations or pagan affiliations. So we just forgo the question to honor the anonymity.

I have found that ask of keeping the question to myself to be profoundly transforming. For a curious person, that’s an act of power and honoring. For myself and the vows I’ve taken, and for the other person and where they are in their journeys. There are other times when questions must be asked to honor their journey. This is not one of them.

Sisterhood of the Stained Shirts

I’m ready, I think, for the Stained Shirt Hall of Fame.

Throughout my life, I’ve been one or more of the following: round, chubby, firm, firmly packed, “you’ve got such a pretty face,” fat, obese, morbidly obese, pleasingly plump, zaftig, overweight, and heavy. Struggling with the weight, criticism, and judgment is one of those life lessons; a lesson that no matter how much you learn and change, it has more to teach you.
One of the things that was always extremely and even painfully embarrassing to me was that I spilled stuff and got stains on my shirts. I’m buxom enough that my shirt is a net of safety so spilled food and drink never has to touch the ground! I was also brought up to understand that overweight/heavy/plump/fat people had to make an extra effort to be neat and clean in their appearance, otherwise they’d be judged as low-class, slovenly, slatternly, ignorant, messy pigs. So when I spilled something, it went beyond embarrassing to painful mortification.
Then I discovered, joyfully and to my surprise, that it happens to everyone. Then I found among my friends that it’s a reason for laughter and affection. We are the sisterhood of the stained shirts.
I rarely wear white shirts because they get stained and are not a good wardrobe investment. I had one I bought dirt cheap so I put it on — brand new — and wore it to work. I look down and there are little tiny drop stains like coffee or tea. I emailed my sisters and we shared a laugh. I can even get stains on shirts I haven’t even worn! Together we have found that tomato sauce can get around layers of napkins, bibs, and sweaters to stain white and pastel shirts. Not just tomato sauce, but anything in our hand-to-mouth coordination proves to be a stain in the making.
Of course, the Goddess blesses us in all our humanity, and as a matter of fact, shows her abundance in her many aspects. The Triple Goddess of Stains: Maiden (Tomato Sauce on a pastel shirt), Mother (Coffee/Tea on a beige shirt) and Crone (Big Splat of All) and Hag (O, the hell with it, I’m putting it on proudly). That’s four, but in the Coven of the Stained Shirts, our sisters are not bound by conventional thinking). All Spills are Ours. The God became the sacrificed one because he laughed as the stain became spilled.
All hail to the sacred bib of the Goddess
Catch my spills and take them into your Be-ing
Honor my stains for they are a life of devotion
To the bounties of your harvest.
All hail to the Sacred Tide-to-Go Wand of the God
Erase my spills, if you can, from my shirt
Leaving a faded spot thereon.
Honor my faded spots as we do honor
To the spilling wisdom of the God.
Blessed Be!
As to my hall of fame contention, I have two words: chop sticks and a teriyaki sauce to die for!
This from a zaftig goddess with a stained shirt!

Whole Cloth, Holy Cloth

I’m excited by this.

On Friday night, Mike and I went to see the film, Creating Buddhas, a one hour film that explores the intersections of sacred intention, creation, mastery, and divinity– in textiles. The filmmaker, Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost, is a Ph.D student and textile scholar at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

See me jump up and down excitedly because I know her. I was in one of her early films on storytelling when she was an undergraduate. She is a very special woman, creatrix, and visionary, as well as an expert and scholar. She has her own production company, Soulful Media and has already made ten films, some short and some longer, like Creating Buddhas. She mentioned she made one about church hats. I’ll bet that is very cool. Her vision of bringing the soul together with fabric, textiles, thread, color and the act of creation is amazing and unique. Her vision is an art, a vehicle for understanding and reflection, and a pathway to spiritual awareness. Her energy gives this vision presence and voice.

Creating Buddhas tells us about fabric thangkas, the Buddhist tradition and craft of creating divine beings using fabric, cord, thread, and embellishments. It’s a sacred act of creating a vehicle for the Divine to inhabit. It’s an amazing process. This film also talks with the only Thangka master residing in the West, Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo and it follows over several months as she creates as Green Tara fabric thangka. The film brings together experts, practitioners, and others to talk about Rinchen-Wongmo’s process of becoming a master as well as her present-day creation.

So absorbing is the story and the process, I forgot to look at this as a film to critique or review, but rather it is another view of Universe, the soul, and the way of creation. Through her films, the pathway is open for us to explore, experience, and be changed.

The Goddess, With Chocolate: The Spirituality of Chocolate

I could write a lot about chocolate, as I’m sure many of us can. Chocolate comforts us, heals us, and makes us feel good. It’s a delight to the senses with a pungent earthy smell and a delicious flavor. It combines well with other substances and flavors to bring us to a state of sensation and satiation.

Botanically, chocolate means “food of the gods,” and it held a sacred place in the customs and rituals of native peoples of Central America. Our modern culture has worshipped chocolate, shaping it to our own beliefs. Women have a special affinity for chocolate and we know the Goddess infuses Herself into it.

Brieflly, and I’m sure there will be more later, the spirituality of chocolate is complex and powerful. Here is part of my vision of it, though I’m sure more is to be revealed:

  • White chocolate corresponds to the Maiden
  • Milk chocolate corresponds to the Mother
  • Dark chocolate corresponds to the Crone

And before you think I’m employing M-M-C fundamentalism talked about in another post,

  • Cocoa Powder corresponds to the Hag (more on Her later)
  • Chocolate with nuts corresponds to the God

I am actively pursuing additional wisdom on the spirituality of chocolate. It’s a sacrifice, something I do in service to All-That-Is. And I’m very glad the Universe has a good sense of humor as well as the good taste to bless us with this wonderful substance.

Happy Valentine’s Day and may your day be filled with love and kisses, chocolate or otherwise.

A Kiss for Valentine’s Day

 

There are many legends associated with the origins and customs of St. Valentine’s Day, with little known about the true historical fact. Whatever the origins, this holiday is a lot of fun, full of hearts, cherubs, kisses, cuddles, chocolates and red-hot cinnamon hearts.

Some sources say that February 14th was the festival of Juno, the Roman Goddess of women and marriage. This festival was followed by Lupercalia, a very well-documented holiday of the Roman God of agriculture Faunus. At the beginning of the festival, an order of priests called the Luperci gathered at the cave where the she-wolf raised Romulous and Remus, the founders of Rome. They called the boys and young men of Rome to join them as they sacrificed a goat for fertility and a god for purification. The boys would slice the goat hide into strips and dip them into blood. They went into the streets where they slapped Roman women and crops with these strips of hide to ensure fertility and easy childbirth for the women as well as good crops.

Later that same day, the young women of Rome would place their names in an urn; and the city’s unmarried men would draw a name. The men and women would be paired together for a year; a custom that often ended in marriage.

Pope Gelasius declared that February 14th was St. Valentine’s Day in 498 B.C.E. and it is popularly believed that he did this to end the lottery associated with Lupercalia, deeming it an unchristian practice. St. Valentine’s Day did not become connected with romantic love until the medieval era, and it is not clear which St. Valentine the holiday is named for.

The most popular legend is of a priest living near Rome in 270 B.C.E. The Roman Emperor Claudius II had outlawed marriage because he believed that unmarried men made the best soldiers. In an empire beset by internal strife and attacks from many different sources, Rome needed many able soldiers. This priest named Valentine took pity on lovers and would administer the sacrament of marriage in secret. Claudius had him arrested. The emperor when meeting Valentine was so charmed by this earnest priest, that he attempted to convert him to the Roman gods so that Valentine could avoid execution. Valentine remained true to his Christian God and was executed to become a martyr and a saint.

While he was awaiting execution, his jailer, Asterius, requested that Valentine heal his blind daughter; and through the miracle of his steadfast faith, Valentine was able to restore her sight. Just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper and wrote a message to her, signing it “From Your Valentine,” a phrase now associated with this holiday of love and messages.

In medieval times, St. Valentine’s Day became associates with romantic love in France and England; it was believed that February 14th was the day that birds paired and mated. This is mentioned in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules. It was common in those days for sweethearts to exchange messages on this day and to refer to each other as their “Valentines.”

As with many customs, the St. Valentine’s Day customs followed the Europeans as they settled the New World. The first mass-produced valentines were sold by Esther A. Howland (1828-1904) and were embossed paper lace. Her father owned a large book and stationary store in Worchester Massachusetts and she was inspired by a valentine she received from England. She became known as the Mother of the Valentine, and was known for her elaborate creations of lace, ribbons and pictures.

In the 21st century, this holiday has grown, and so have the customs associated with it. One billion cards per year are mailed on Valentine’s Day. Love and affection in all its manifestations are celebrated on this day. Passion, affection, steadfast love, crushes, lust, friendship, sex and family are all expressed with tokens of love.

A Wordle to the Wise

There is a cool tool on the internet called Wordle. It will make a word cloud of your text. It looked pretty cool so I tried it with one of my poems, “The Charge of the Goddess Athena,” and you can see one of the results above. I took out a lot of the meaningless and repetitive words to get this image of my poem. Pretty darn cool don’t you think? And here it is in linear language:

The Charge of the Goddess Athena

Hear now the charge of the Goddess Athena, She who is called Pallas, Warrior, Maiden, Wise One, Teacher, Weaver, and many other names. Listen to She who was born of her own passion and power; She who is creativity, power, beauty, knowledge, passion, and wisdom.

I charge you, my student, to open your mind to possibility, to magic, and to mystery.
I call you to learn and to know as you study the Craft.
Seek knowledge and learn wisdom.
See magic unfold before you, and hear the music of the Sacred and Divine.
Perfumes and scents fill you with the beauty of the Wild and the Sublime.
Feel the rhythm of the Universe in your blood and your bones.
Open your arms to embrace the known and the unknown
And dance in the ecstasy of delight and understanding.

Learn the patterns of creation, and learn the patterns of destruction
Weave your knowledge into tapestries of wonder.
Be in awe of your own magic, and be humble before the magic all around you
Marvel at your place in the Dance of love and life.
Learn every step, dance every dance, and sing every song.
You are the harmony of the Universe
Inspired with every breath, you are touched with the hand of knowledge,
And in turn you touch the Sacred with all your being.

Learn, Love, Live, and Laugh.

For this is my charge to you.
I am Athena, your teacher and your guide.
I hold the mirror before you that you might see yourself as you are
Growing, becoming, perfection in the journey,
You are the tapestry, you are the masterpiece
As you know the Craft
You are the Priestess,
You are the Priest,
You are the Magic
You are the Witch.
I work a lot with Athena, especially when I teach and I teach all the time. I think it’s my spiritual work. I’ve been teaching an introduction to the Craft for many years. What began as a series of handouts is now a self-published book. It it called The Initiation of Athena: Knowing the Craft. The book gives the foundational information and presents a set of experiences to understand what it means to practice Wicca and Witchcraft.

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