The Rowdy Goddess

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

Archive for the tag “sacred feminine”

Finding Fierce Compassion for Myself

In working with the goddesses of other cultures, I believe it’s important to understand who are they now.  I think the goddesses of myth, legend, and story evolve just as we evolve.  The Athena of now is different than the goddess of ancient Athens.  She has experienced change and growth just as humans do.  In addition, I think when a Wiccan or Pagan works with them, we share with them a special interaction and energy.  For me the experience is a combination of manifestation, meditation or prayer, and journeying.  No disrespect is meant when working with a god or goddess of another culture.  The gods tend to choose me rather than the other way around.

I have been working with Durga for quite awhile and she keeps manifesting.  A statue of her astride a tiger sits on my altar and I see it every morning and every night to remind me to treat myself with fierce compassion, something I do not always do.  She has become very persistent lately, manifesting in different ways.  At a Full Moon Meditation on Valentine’s Day, I pulled a stone with the word, “Decide” on it.  I’m still not sure what that means to me other than Durga appeared in the meditation and told me to explore the gifts held in each hand.  I looked them up immediately but have not yet explored them.

Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince

Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince

Today, I decided to pull a card from the Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince.  The card I pulled — surprise, surprise — was Durga, the Seven of Fire.  I usually read the Seven of Fire (Wands) as being judicious about fighting.  You have options, the ability to run from the fight or the ability to engage.  The key is that you must decide.  The affirmation for the Durga card is “Rise up or the demons will win.”  I realized that my particular demons at this time in my life is my interior self-talk.  At a time when most things in my life are good, my interior voice has become very harsh towards me.  Compassion, it seems, is reserved for others.  The card was a reminder that I associate Durga with that fierce compassion, accepting nothing but the best for myself as well as others.  I was reminded of a charge I wrote for my circle when Durga first came into my life.

Hear now the charge of Durga

I who am known by many names.

Many are my names and many are my gifts.

Beauty, courage, merriment, compassion,

Fearlessness, and power are all who I am.

Seek all of them with all your heart and soul.

Find companions in human and animals,

Treat them well and demand that they treat you well.

Be strong, brave, and powerful.

Love fiercely and live in compassion.

You have been given weapons

For your defense, and for your greater good.

Defend yourself with passion,

And give yourself with joy.

Love yourself with all your being.

Fight what seeks to harm you

And seize the power to be strong.

Love others fiercely

And love your true self without doubt.

Turn and swirl in the energy of power and love.

Remember the companions of hoof, feather, and fin.

Be at one with All That Is

And live in the fire of your own divine flame.

Burn bright and burn long.

Blessed Be.

May your day be filled with many gifts including compassion and ferocity!

Finding the Divine in the Polar Depression


It is very, very cold where I am. The temperature catapults from below zero to a whopping, warm, 15 degrees. Salt covers our cars and we track it in on carpets; so much so, that one colleague commented that she felt like we worked at a local salt mining facility. It is very hard work to keep warm, both inside and out. It is far from picturesque, though sometimes the sun does shine and make the dirty, grey snow shiny and inviting. Go outside and the wind is bitter and cold.  The media calls it the Polar express and I call it the Polar Depression.

Each quarter, my circle has “sponsors,” as a way to learn about different gods and goddesses. Each member is invited to explore these gods (or not) in their own way. Because the winter started early and harshly, I serendipitously found myself exploring the landscapes and gods of the Slavic countries. I found richness and harshness in their gods, particularly in the winter. Our winter goddess is harsh, strong, demanding, and powerful while her husband is sweet, comforting, and supportive. The polarities in the gods reflect the polarities of life in the upper part of the world. Winter demands strength, preparation, and no mistakes while spring is precious, brief, and prized. Neither is better than the other, it just is.

Morana (Morena, Marzanna) is not a beloved goddess but one that is feared and respected. Pronounced “mah-rah-nah,” she is portrayed as a woman with long black hair and a terrifying presence. She is the goddess of winter, death, and witchcraft, and sometimes the goddess of the harvest. In a land of privation and scarcity, she helps souls journey to the underworld and she provides the magic of survival. In the spring, a doll or effigy of her is constructed and either burned or drowned to celebrate the triumph of spring over winter. In March, a festival of masks is held. Villagers will don frightening masks to scare Morana away.

She was the daughter of the thunder God, Perun, and her twin brother and husband was Jarilo. She is associated with the Sun, while he is associated with the Moon and springtime.

The Charge of the Goddess Morana

Hear now the Charge of the Goddess Morana,

I who am called Marzana, Mara, Mora, Marmora

And many other names.

Celebrate the season of winter with me!

Face it with courage, strength, and endurance.

Know that scarcity and bleakness cannot defeat you

For my magic and power is deep in your soul.

Look at the unloved part of your soul

Know that I find it terrifying in its beauty

And I love it despite your displeasure.

Look at your unloveliness with compassion and strength

And you will find love and beauty.

How could it not?

It is a part of you.

Know this wisdom, for it comes from the heart of what terrifies you:

It is not necessary for others to understand or love this thing

Only you must.

And in that there is beauty, power, and mystery.

Blessed be from the coldest heart of winter.


Caillech, The Hag of Winter

When I got in the car this morning, the car’s onboard temperature gauge said 25 degrees Farenheit.  I often complain that these enhancements to automobiles are really TMI (too much information) for the early morning commute.  But that temperature is a whole lot better than the negative 9 last week and the single digits that went on until this Sunday. The whole landscape is frigid and cold. We are all bundled up and trundle through our worlds trailing hats and gloves and all sorts of things as we don and shed our layers depending on the temperature and the weather.

When I called my mother this past weekend I asked her if she’d gotten any snow. She said they’d had a little but it had all melted. I told her we had a lot of snow on the ground and it would snow a little every day until — pause — forever. She laughed and said it must feel that way. Yesterday, the young men of the family across the road cleared off their frozen pond and played ice hockey most of the day, taking advantage of the bright sunshine and making a lot of fun out of the freezing cold. It was fun to watch from my warm comfortable kitchen window.

My circle is practicing living in harmony with the seasons this year. Each quarter we have a “sponsor” or two. Deities that help us understand what qualities and essences we are studying. The gods we work with give us a charge. I find that They usually evokes in me some creative work. Caillech is our sponsor for the winter.

I first met her many years ago when I was taking an advanced course on Wicca, emphasizing telling our stories. It was a time when I was still adapting to the hard winters in Central New York. She appealed to me with her ability to shift and change, the shawl about her shoulders, and her ability to survive and thrive in the hard landscapes, along with her gracious relinquishment of power in the springtime. As I told her story, I became her and channeled her wisdom. It was a very special moment of embodiment of the Goddess.

In all the Celtic myths and legends, there are variations of the Cailleach, the ruler of Winter. She appears at Samhain and rules and protects the world, the weather, the land and the animals. At Beltane, the Brighide appears and Cailleach hides beneath a holly bush. When she enters the world, she brings death, sharp storms, ice, and snow. She created the lakes, streams and rivers; and the rocky cairns fell from her apron.

The world is hers beginning at Samhain. Her staff, when it strikes the land, turns everything into ice and snow. She is especially protective of wolves and deer as she moves through the land though all animals are in her heart. She herds the deer and protects them. Swine, wild goats, and wild cattle are also her creatures. She is the great ancient earth mother, the embodiment of the Dark Mother archetype, who destroys, creates, and destroys. When she first appears, she is wearing a great plaid over her shoulder. She starts to wash her plaid and when she is finished, it is pure white and the land is covered in snow and frost.

Her name means “hag,” “old woman,” or “old wife” in Gaelic. There are many variations and legends found throughout the Celtic speaking lands. She has the ability to transform from old woman to a beautiful one according to her mood; and her moods change the weather and the land.

The Charge of the Goddess Cailleach

Hear now the charge of the Goddess Cailleach,
I who am known as the Ancient Earth, the Hag,
And the Old Woman do tell you and instruct you.
Do not be afraid of my wild moods and changes
Just as you should not be afraid of your own.
Find creation in all death and destruction
And find beauty in the bleak, cold, deadness of winter.
Guard and protect what is dear to you
As I do with the animals of the earth;
And find comfort and strength
In the changes of your loved ones
Even as their transformations may wound you
And change you.

Always know that
In the stark coldness of bitter storms and frigid land,
There is beauty and hidden treasures.
Look beneath cairns of your life
To find the hidden riches.
Celebrate the joys and the sorrows
For as death and destruction is brought forth,
So is new creation and joy.
Be blessed in all aspects of your life
And be beloved by yourself and those you love.
Blessed Be.

May you find joy and blessings in the harshest and sweetest moments. 

The Path to the Rowdy Goddess

Picture by Carol E. Reid, my rowdy sister

I am just back from spending the weekend with my friends, the Rowdy Goddesses. There were 13 of us on Friday the 13th and the number of the place we were staying was 113. It was meant to be transformative. I’ve known these women for many years and have been reading Tarot for the each time we get together. In that time I have seen incredible changes, deepening roots, life challenges, tears, and loud, loud laughter. Our journeys are an incredible gift.
So I thought I would take the opportunity to share our story and our charge, something I wrote a few years ago. I had always intended it to be a book on the Rowdy Goddess but it has not yet become that. It is a story that must be told!
The illustration is by my sister, Carol Reid, another rowdy woman from another part of my life.

Here now the words of the Rowdy Goddess:
I who am called Baubo, Artemis, Iambe, Lillith, Flora, Aphrodite
And by many other names

The story of my journey begins where so many stories begin, in early childhood. My grandparents had a part collie dog named Rowdy. I used to sit on the steps of their farmhouse and call, “Here Rowdy, Rowdy, Rowdy!” He would come running, tail wagging, happy and affectionate. Many years later, my mother told me that he had disappeared for several months and reappeared one day, tired and dirty. The family had always thought that he had been stolen and made his way back home to the family that loved him. That story always thrilled me and inspired me because of his determination and love. Even now, Rowdy comes to me from the land of spirit in my meditations and dreams.

Much of my childhood was devoted to seeking magic; the magic of learning, the magic of Spirit, the magic of books, the magic of the ocean, the magic of friendship and the magic of love. Magic was not always easy to see but I was convinced it was there. I was determined to find it and I always assumed that it was in the world of Spirit, in religion. When I was nineteen, still seeking magic, I became a fundamental Christian and joined a Christian group on my college campus. At first the experience I embraced was magical and spiritual but soon the magic got lost in the rules and subliminal messages about sin, womanhood, power and femininity.

The group was closed and close. The young women of the group were called “gals,” and the young men were called “guys.” You did not become women or men until you got married. This was a world of sanctified behavior had strict boundaries. On one side, the boundaries were chastity and guilt and on the other fear and loss. We had to cross those boundaries to go to school, to work and to our families, but we were always cautioned to remain focused on our spiritual purity.

Gals were supposed to be obedient, demure, submissive and chaste. There was no dating in this group and the gals and guys were segregated into groups; teams that met together in strict controlled ways. The gals studied how to be good Christian women and femininity was highly prized, being bound up in the conflicting messages of “be attractive,” and “be pure so as not to distract the guys from service to the Lord.” Femininity became associated with control and conflict.
The natural optimism and humor that is part of my nature kept bubbling through the control and the emotionally laden tests of obedience. I laughed, joked and questioned. Because of this ebullience, I was nicknamed “The Rowdy Gal,” and it was not a compliment. My attempts to question and to lighten the atmosphere with humor were regarded as disruptive, subversive and disorderly. Attempts to leaven unhappy and difficult situations with humor were rebuked and various social punishments were exacted. During those five years my role, my person and my personality was criticized and tested. In those tests I was found lacking, because I behaved inappropriately as a gal and a Christian. Eventually I was ostracized and through a mutual unstated agreement. I became a non-Christian as we called everyone outside of our group; no matter that I still had some faith. Even then, with many psychic wounds and bruises, I still longed to be spiritual and find magic.

Eventually, I found the Goddess and embraced the magic of the Universe through the Goddess and through witchcraft. In the course of the time since, I have learned that I can look at the Universe and see the Goddess. I can take a deep breath and know that “I am Goddess.”
For many years, I have attended a wonderful women’s spiritual retreat called Womongathering. It is a loving and beautiful four days in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I met my dear friend Joyce there and we began asking to be assigned cabins together. Each time, we would be asked to quiet down. We were too noisy. Other friends joined us, RoseLee, Sharon, Kim and Susan. We asked, each year, to be housed together, informing them that we were noisy. Usually someone in the adjoining space would tell us to hush, the most outrageous when we were having a normal toned discussion in the middle of the afternoon. We were tired of being shushed. I told them my Rowdy gal story and said that since we were Goddesses, we should call ourselves The Rowdy Goddesses. And we did.

Then one year, it changed dramatically. I pulled up to unload my car and I could hear loud laughter and talking coming from one of the cabins. As I walked towards the assigned cabin a woman stopped me and said consolingly, “I think you are in the noisy cabin.” I smiled and as I came into the cabin I found that Maire, Vicki and Erin had joined us and they were, joyfully, full of exuberance and noise. In other years, we were joined by more until our ranks swelled and we asked for a larger cabin. We were, as we discovered, rowdy and proud. We warned people that we were loud and they needed to get used to it. We joyfully embrace our highs and lows, our sorrows and our loves; we are complete and seeking to be full of Spirit.

Over the years, we have met together every June for four days. You would think that we’d only have time for the shallowest interactions; instead we share our deepest secrets and intimate lives. We laugh uproariously, we yell and scream our anger, and we cry about our deepest sorrows and disclose our greatest fears. In so many ways, we are the best of what a coven does; we support each other, care for one another, challenge each other; all connected through our love for each other and for the Goddess. We’ve created our own rowdy spiritual community within a lovely community-oriented women’s festival festival. The energy of the Goddess infuses our tears, hugs, screams, and laughter. We are boisterous in our joy and in our sorrow. We are the Rowdy Goddesses.

Goddess energy is rowdy energy. The rowdy goddess energy disrupts and makes us creates new patterns that free us to be ourselves, holy and whole. The stories tell us to be as She is, proud, independent, funny and bold. Depending on your source, it was either Baubo or Iambe disrupted Demeter’s terrible grief at losing Persephone. Iambe lifted her skirts and told a bawdy joke that made the grieving mother smile. Baubo is the orgasmic goddess who unashamedly celebrates her body and her sex. Baubo is credited with creating the belly laugh, the laugh that begins deep inside and bursts forth with no embarrassment. Lillith was demonized for refusing to submit and refusing to be overpowered. Artemis made her own rules and followed her own path of the moon. Flora was the Roman goddess of sexuality for the sake of its own wonder. She was the patroness of sexuality with no purpose other than lusty enjoyment. Aphrodite celebrated love and sexuality with delight and pleasure.

This rowdy energy is strong, irrepressible, powerful, and exuberant. The energy of the Goddess bubbles up inside us, unrestricted, unbounded by guilt, embarrassment or shame. We are disorderly when we question the boundaries that restrict us and then move beyond our borders into freedom. We are disruptive and wild when we say, “I am Goddess” and believe it and live it..
In our wild rowdy energy, we our find femininity and womanliness by looking at the aspects of the Goddess that reaches out and speaks to us. We see her in the many phases of the moon. She grows from dark to light to dark again in enormous variety and diversity. She reaches out to the Goddess inside us and holds us in her embrace. She inspires us and she moves us. We sit on the steps of our lives and call, “here Rowdy, Rowdy, Rowdy.” We are answered with love, affection, joy and unbounded enthusiasm. The Rowdy Goddess is each of us as we lift our skirts. The Rowdy Goddess is each of us as we laugh from deep in our soul.

Hear now the words of the Rowdy Goddess.
I who am called Baubo, Lillith, Flora, Aphrodite, Iambe, Joyce, Susan, Sharon, Kim, Erin, Diana, Queen Maire, Gail, RoseLee, Karen, Chris, Molly, Bonnie,
Christel, Patty, Naomi Captain Medusa
And many other names.

I am the laughter of your soul,
Beginning deep in the belly and coming loudly from your mouth.
I am the song of your life,
Sung boldly and proud.
I am the dance of your heart and the passion of your body,
Willing and free.
I am every breath you take and every sound you make.
My voice is heard in a giggle, in a soft laugh,
In a lovely song, in a guffaw,
In a keening cry and in a bawdy ballad.
I am ecstasy and delight.

Lift your skirts and dance with me
For I am the passion that moves you through the world.
Lift your voice and sing with me
For I am the excitement of life lived out loud.
Lift your hearts and love with me
For I am hope everlasting.

Let my worship be in your voice and in your body,
For behold all acts of exuberance and creativity are done in reverence to me.
Let there be enthusiasm and joy, passion and love,
Fearlessness and foolishness, exuberance and mirth,
Grief and healing, and laughter and bliss.

Swirl and dance, sing and chant.
I am the Rowdy Goddess
I am the Rowdy Goddess.

May you find the divine rowdy goddess deep within your soul and may you find ways to express your divine rowdiness, loud and proud. B*B


I’m Not a Crone, Please leave me alone!

I’m not a Crone…Please leave me alone!!!

As soon as I hit the 50 birthday mark, people kept asking me when I was going to have a croning. I wasn’t ready for it. My body wasn’t signaling the end of a cycle at that time, if you know what I mean, though things were obviously slowing down.
I’m not against being a Crone. There are some really cool old broads who are not only admirable but also inspire awe with their creativity, vision, and ability to speak their minds. It’s just in the narrow triple thinking of M-M-C, this seems to signal the end; part of the downward slope to the old folks home. I’m not done yet. I’ve got things to do and more to explore.
It’s been pointed out to me that Crone is the initiation point, the threshold over which we step onto a new path and a new way of thinking, living and being. I’m feeling better about it and I may do the Crone ritual thing at some point. As long as it signals and symbolizes stepping over the threshold into diverse roles, aspects, and explorations. If it’s “crone till I’m prone,” then forget about it.

The Jubilee Years
One of the ways I prefer to think about is that this “F” decade of the fifties is a jubilee. A celebration of magic, accomplishment and “more-riches-to-come.” The Jubilee is 50th year/anniversary celebration rooted in ancient traditions of Judaism–the Sabbath and the sabbatical. All rooted in the number seven.
The Jubilee year is at the end of the seventh of seven year cycles (7X7=49). Seven being the magical number of spiritual work and wisdom. The Sabbath, seventh day, was a day of reflection, retooling and quiet interaction with the Divine. The seventh year was a time of sabbatical, another time of refreshment and reaquaintance with our Divine partner. This is the root of the modern academic practice of sabbatical leaves; a time to move out of the hurly burly of everyday teaching and committees and to peacefully delve in to the refreshing stream of scholarship. In ancient times, the Jubilee was marked with great celebrations; debts were forgiven and slaves were freed. It was and is a time of fresh starts and celebration of accomplishments.

My friend StoneLightWeaver and I had a Dragon Jubilee party for our 50th birthday. We were born in the Year of the Water Dragon, a potent symbol for both of us. I’ve been called “The Dragon Lady” by the students I’ve supervised. But it’s really about the jewelry I wear–it’s all about the jewelry!!

The Geezer Dance
And then there’s the point of view of my partner, Mouse. In the four years that I’ve known him, he’s talked about being old, growing old and aging. At first, I responded with platitudes like ‘you’re only as old as you act,’ and ‘you’re not growing old, you’re getting better.” One time he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Gail, if you tell them you’re old, they carry stuff for you!” So I dropped that line of talk, it wasn’t doing any good.
Of course all of this is all in great good humor. Mouse has a theory of the cycles of Sacred Masculine. Mostly pagans use “youth-lover-sage” or some variation of that. Mouse’s cycle of the Sage is this: Geezer, Codger, and Drooler. We haven’t figured out where old coot fits in, but it does somewhere. “Don’t fear the Geezer.”
He loves to dance. And he does a wonderful Geezer dance. Because at this age, who cares what we look like, we just enjoy the dance.

Dance on and enjoy every step. Whirl and twirl in the ecstasy of the Rowdy Goddess and Her consort The Geezer!

The Sacred Dance of Feminine and Masculine

The Sacred Dance of Feminine and Masculine

“When she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity she finally began to enjoy being a woman.” — Betty Friedan

At work earlier this week, we had a women’s luncheon in honor of Women’s History Month. On the table were rectangles of colored paper with different quotes about women or about living as a woman. This one really struck me because I have always struggled with the concepts of femininity. What do they mean to me, and how can I live up to them? Do I want to live up to them?

When I was younger and a Christian, the concept of femininity was harder to deal with because it involved being submissive and obedient, often to people for whom I had little or no respect; it was expected because they were men. The group was organized around the polarities of masculine and feminine–the “guys” were in separate teams from the “gals.” At one point, the guy’s teams let it be known that they’d like the gals to dress more feminine. Since we were in college in the heyday of the jeans and tshirt era, I could only assume that meant dresses and make-up. Actually that was what it was. Clearly, being smart and witty and devoted to Spirit were not particularly feminine ideals!

Fast forward many years, and here I am in the pagan and Goddess community where feminine and masculine are considered sacred and mirrored in our lives and the world around us. Everytime anyone described the qualities of the Sacred Feminine, they tended to center on the same sort of characteristics and sometimes echoing the qualities of a Christian “gal,” awakening more doubts for me. Everytime I thought of a characteristic of the Sacred Feminine, I could think of a man who demonstrated these as well or better than any woman I knew. And vice versa for Sacred Masculine.
The last thing I wanted to do was have a list of essential qualities for the Sacred Feminine and another opposite list of essential qualities for the Sacred Masculine. Eek. No one can measure up to that kind of essentialism. Not even the Goddess or the God.

I read somewhere, and I can’t remember where [darn it] that when we conceptualize the Sacred as Feminine and Masculine and we assign qualities to it, we need to think of those qualities in the broadest and most expansive ways. That to say that the feminine energy is negative and masculine energy is positive is to describe the energetic flow of power and it is in no way analogous to our lives in our societes. In this case, the Sacred Feminine and Masculine are not comparable to the lives we lived situated in place and time. To understand these sacred energies, we must move out or our lives and move into the energetic flow of the Universe. When we do, we gain a new understanding. We learn to reframe our old understanding of how the world works. So the idea that negative is bad no longer makes sense, and we learn that negative and positive are just kinds of energy. Like a battery. Both are needed to power the Universe.

That helped me to realize that I was bound by my own experiences of place and time, and to understand who and what the Sacred is, I need to move out of that into the ecstatic Universe. And like so many things, it is so difficult to articulate. It is because we are describing feelings and experiences. The Sacred, both feminine and masculine, must be experienced in our souls as well as in our bodies. We can wrap our minds around it, but we may not be able to describe it in a way that will be understandable to someone else. Even if we can, their experiences may lead them in another dance towards a different understanding. And then we all meld together in the Sacred, dancing in the light and the dark. Ecstatic, rowdy, and joyful!!

“Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.”
–Fatih Whittlesey.

Learning about the Goddess and the God

Learning About the Goddess & the God

Because of my academic background, I believe it is important to be grounded in scholarship but not be bound up in it. It’s a balance between what others can teach you and your own internal wisdom; sometimes called UPG, or “unverified personal gnosis.” Equally as valid and sometimes even more so as we learn to dance with the Old Ones.

Think about how you were in junior high. And then think about how you are now. Certainly you retain some of that essence but you have grown and become something different, haven’t you? Thank heavens I have!! So has the Goddess. She does not remain static as the deity of yesteryear. She moves through the heavens and dances with the stars, ever becoming.

This is something I wrote five years ago in Womonspeak, “What I believe…is that many of the goddess stories have been mis-tod and that we can retrieve her stories by asking Her what they are. Embedded in the HIStory stories are the real woman-centered stories of heart and soul….and I call upon her courage, wisdom and dark mystery. You won’t find the real [goddess] in Ovid or Bulfinch but you find her in your heart and soul. I believe that Perfection lies in process and we are evolving as is the Goddess. So the Goddess become what she becomes and the whole process is Perfection. The song, “I am a child of the Universe, being born every moment” has deep meaning if we believe that “I am goddess.” It means that the Goddess is not bound by the patriarchal writings of the past but is being born each moment.”

Just as we are not bound by our own past. We create and re-create ourselves whenever we stand true to our own ecstatic and wild nature.

So when I’m called by a Goddess or a God. I do the research. I am a librarian by nature as well as by training! And then I meditate, journey, pray and walk with this Goddess. I draw Her down and feel her wisdom.
Then I write or embroider or find a way to express the wonder that I’ve discovered.

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