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.
THE PATH TO THE ROWDY GODDESS
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