Category Archives: Goddess spirituality
As many of you may or may nor know I don’t consider myself a strict traditional witch, though I do have a lot of traditional leanings. I feel that I needed more direct experiences and practices within Traditional witchcraft to consider myself a traditional witch. Training in the Feri tradition is a part of that.
The other reason I didn’t consider myself really a traditional witch is that I didn’t work really directly with local land spirits and forces. I worked more with my personal energetic forces rather than spirits. That has been changing recently with my studies in the Feri tradition and in Hoodoo/Conjure.
So recently I did a prayer and asked if there were any fairy spirit in the area to make themselves known. A few days later a mushroom ring appears in my backyard. For the first time in my life a fairy ring appeared in my home. It made me feel like the local fairies and spirits did take the first offering I gave at my home/house spirit shrine.
Its just something I thought I would share. I have never experienced a fairy ring in my yard before. So for me its a special gift of the fairies. To me its a signal that my connections with the local forces and spirits is growing and they are listening to me.
The Heart of the Initiate is a wonderful book. This book was created by Victor and Cora Anderson for their students and those interested in the Feri tradition of witchcraft. The forward states:
“THIS BOOK IS A VALENTINE from Victor and Cora Anderson to you. For those of us who are their initiates, the Andersons live on through the many personal recordings and letters we held close and treasure. We’re grateful for this great opportunity to share rare insights into the Anderson’s teachings, and offer you an imitation of what it was like to be their student.”
It is clear that the Andersons wanted their teachings to be preserved and shared. That they wanted more people to understand and know what their tradition was and is all about. The proof is in the quote mentioned above. For this reason the book was created which allows seekers like me and students of Feri to see what the actual founders and high masters said about the tradition and their teachings.
Due to the nature of this book there are not chapters. The book reads like correspondences which is what they are. There are a few sections in which various teachings are written about in letter or essay form, but not your traditional chapters and sections style.
The first section of the book is called Some Pictish views on the old religion. Here we learn about some origins of the practices and how the religion is different from others. It talks about the origins and how sex is sacred. There is a little bit on basically all aspects of the Craft in this section written by Victor.
The second section of the book is called Commentaries. In this section there are a few specific articles on points important to the specific Feri tradition of witchcraft as they teach it. Topics include Raising power to divinity, Sexual Initiation, Sexual ethics, Training and Initiation, The Consort, The Guardians, The morning prayer, Possession, and Salvation. All of these concepts are teachings important in the Feri tradition to some extent and these basic articles express how they work and what they mean.
The third section of the book is the most informative section of the book. Here there are glimpses at some of the rites and materials actually presented to their students. There are exercises and explanations given. The letters are written by Victor and Cora presented to us as they responded to their students. The only thing missing in this section would be the letters from the students to their teachers so the context makes more sense.
The very last section of the book is important for seekers like myself. In many books on traditional witchcraft there is an exercise to switch from a Christian path to a Traditional witchcraft path which involves the reciting of the Lord Prayer backwards. Here Victor describes yet another prayer that can be used which is essentially a modified version of the Lords prayer for seekers trying to be open to new paths and teachings.
Today I am going to talk about Pagan pride Day. In the US there is an annual festival at different times in different states where Pagans can come together and celebrate being who and what they are. Its a day for rituals, friendship, exploration, and much more. There are workshops and there are vendors. You have a ritual for the harvest (all are harvest themed) and sometimes other mini rituals in workshops.
I love my local Pagan Pride day. Its been going on for 11 years now. Its been a great way for me to meet friends and be a part of a community. The vendors are typically the same year after year (with new ones from time to time) and many of the attendees are regulars. There were many people I saw once a year at the Pagan Pride day that I still considered friends. It was a fellowship of a kindred mind and spirit that kept us close.
For many years I went just as an attendee. I went for the workshops and the vendors. The ritual component was always nice but they didn’t always make much sense to me. The people were the reason I went. I learned a lot from workshops. One year I learned the LBRP by heart by the end of an hour workshop. Other years I did ancestral work and learned about kitchen witchcraft. One year I learned of a completely new way to look at herbal work from a different perspective.
Pagan Pride days are great. Even when I volunteered for a few years I was still able to see my friends, go to the workshops, and participate in the rituals. I became such a regular scene there and was often so lucky with the raffle that it became a joke about my entering raffles in the Pagan scene. Its still a joke today for those who remember those days even though the event is being run by other people now.
With the change in leadership my role at the event also took a change. I went from being an attendee and a volunteer to being a vendor. This is where I launched Mystic Echoes last year. With this change I gained even more appreciation for vendors and attendees of Pagan pride Days. I was supported by the community in my venture to open a New Age and Metaphysical store. I now knew and understood why vendors came back year after year. I also now understood why people liked the vendors. Its all exposure to different products you might not see or have otherwise. Its also a great place to learn about making new things and how things worked.
Pagan Pride Days are a wonderful thing and need to be embraced more. They offer community for those of us who practice alone but want fellowship every once and a while. They offer education to the general public. They offer understanding, small business sales and development, and do a community service. The fee for the local Pagan pride day is a canned good of some sort. The non-perishable goods are given to a local food pantry so that those in need can have food to eat. Last year they also raised food and toys for the local animal shelter as well ensuring that the animals had food and toys as well.
If you are interested in seeing a world of different pagan religious practices, and in exploring them I can’t recommended going to a Pagan Pride Day enough. The website: Pagan pride Day organization provides a link for you to find local events. They are non judgmental so all are welcome. You don’t have to be Pagan to go and enjoy it. So please go check out a local event.
The book The Spiral Dance is considered a classic in modern witchcraft literature. The author Starhawk put this book out at a time when there was little to no information published publicly on Witchcraft and people were starving for information. In the 35 years since the original release of The Spiral Dance many more books have been put on the market, but the Spiral Dance remains on the top of many recommended reading lists.
The one down side to this book is that it does focus heavily on the feminist movement and feminism. At the time the book was written the author was heavily involved in the feminist movement and feminist spirituality, so it makes sense that this book would reflect those interests and activities. This book is one of the reasons that religious witchcraft is considered to be “women’s religion”. The theme and focus throughout the book is the use of witchcraft and Goddess spirituality to reclaim women’s rights and women’s power.
The subtext to the title “The Spiral Dance” reads :”A rebirth of the ancient religion of the Great Goddess”. The text is a very apt description for the information that you find within the book. When you combine the focus on the Great Goddess with the feminist movement at the time you have a book that covers feminist witchcraft and feminist spirituality and why its important for the world we live in.
Now Starhawk does talk about why feminist spirituality like the Goddess movement is important to men and what Men can get out of the practice of witchcraft. So while the book is geared towards women and feminist spirituality, there are benefits described for Men and practices of Male witches discussed. The overall tone though is geared towards women and women’s mysteries.
This book is 13 chapters long. Each chapter has a specific lesson that expands on the information in the previous chapter. Within several of the chapters are easy to do exercises and meditations. These meditations and exercises are provided so that a solitary witch or someone seeking witchcraft can learn practices that will allow them to become witches in their own right.
Each chapter starts out with a ritual or a description of the practices found within the chapter to illustrate the lessons and information found within the chapter. Some of these stories are fictional and some of them are from experiences within the authors own coven settings. These personal experience illustrations form some of the most powerful aspects of the book allowing the reader to see what sort of experiences they may have in their own work while not telling them explicitly that these will be your experiences as well.
The first chapter completely discusses witchcraft as a Goddess focused religion. Here is where we first learn the concept of a Great Goddess and of feminist spirituality. The author also goes into the history of witchcraft and what exactly witchcraft is as a religion and a practice. Its a basic starting point illustrating the misconceptions and issues many people have with witchcraft.
The second chapter goes into the worldview of witchcraft. Every religion has a way of viewing the world. Here we re provided with a creation myth for the birth of the God and Goddess within this version of witchcraft as well as the essence of the Great Goddess. Here we are given the concept of the soul/spirit as well as the concepts of energy working and the view on the cosmos.
The third chapter talks about covens. Here we learn about the common structure of religious witchcraft and the way that this structure functions. The author illustrates both same sex covens as well as mixed gender covens and why coven structures work. The comparisson between covens and traditional religious structures provide ways for seekers and students to understand the functional differences between a church and a coven.
The fourth chapter discusses sacred space. One key component in witchcraft rituals is the creation of sacred space. This chapter provides several different ways of working this ritual as well as reasons behind the creation of sacred space.
The fifth chapter is all about the Goddess. This religious witchcraft tradition is Duotheistic meaning it focuses on the worship of a Goddess and a God. In this chapter we are introduced to the Goddess and her roles within the religion. We learn how to call her and how both men and women can relate to her.
The sixth chapter is all about the God. While the Goddess is the focus in the feminist version of witchcraft that the Spiral Dance teaches, the God is still important. This chapter illustrates the relationship between the Goddess and God and how they need each other and work together to be one.
The seventh chapter is all about the use of symbols within magic. Magic works through the use of symbols and directing energy related to those symbols. This chapter in the book has several different spells to try as well as exercises to develop your own understanding of symbols and your own association with symbols.
The eighth chapter is all about the Cone of power. This particular chapter focuses on Coven based workings, but the concepts of raising and directing energy in the shape of a cone is applicable to the solitary student. Here we understand what it means in witchcraft when the concept of energy direction and manipulation is discussed.
The ninth chapter is about trance work. The basic definition of magic given early in the book is the idea and the ability to change ones concious state at will. This chapter explores the use of trance and the reason why trance work is part of witchcraft. Basic meditation and trance concepts are addressed here and there are several different exercises within the chapter for trance work and meditation work.
The tenth chapter of the book focuses on initiation. Solitary witches who read this book will not get as much out of this chapter as a witch who is working for initiation within a coven or specific tradition. This chapter describes what it means to be initiated and provides a coven based initiation ritual as a sample.
The eleventh chapter in the book focuses on esbats or moon based rituals. Within witchcraft the moon is sacred and is revered as a symbol of the Goddess. Moon rituals are typically in many cases working rituals while sabbat rituals are more worship based. Moon rituals can be based on the full or new moons or other moon phases, though full and new are the most common.
The twelfth chapter in the book focuses on the wheel of the year or the sabbats and holiday celebrations of this tradition of witchcraft. Here the author provides sample rituals for ideas as to how to honor the sabbats as well as providing information on the lore and meanings behind the sabbats.
The final chapter of this book is focused on developing religion. Here the author explains the issues that can arrive when religions become based on dogma and established practices and don’t change. The author explains what exactly witchcraft as a religion is and how it has to continue to change and evolve in this modern world. Here we learn the dangers of thinking in strict absolute terms as well as in dualistic terms.
Despite the age, this book is useful. Its a good book for establishing witchcraft as a religion and explaining why religious witchcraft is so different than traditional religions. The book covers the basics and provides enough information that a solitary seeker man or women can start their own practice and create their own relationship with the God, Goddess, and the Great Goddess.
One of the common themes out there in the world of Paganism and alternative spirituality is the concept of generic Goddess spirituality. There are many different things that people mean when they say that they follow Goddess spirituality rather than a specific religion or spiritual path. In all honesty like all spiritual paths Goddess spirituality is a very personal path. There are some common themes and traits among Goddess spirituality so I am going to cover a few of those themes today for you to follow and understand.
What is Goddess spirituality
What is goddess spirituality? Goddess spirituality is in the end a relationship with one divine great Goddess. This Goddess is the mother of everything. She is the creator of everything. She has no name but is mother to every one who follows her path. The Great Goddess is both apart of this world and separate from this world. The Goddess is in everything and is a part of everything.
Goddess spirituality is actually as old as time. The earliest figures that we have found appear to be mother Goddess figures. It is believed that because women are the ones to give life that the ancient and primitive cultures believed that it was a feminine divine entity that created life. They also believed that it was to her that we returned when we die. She was the womb and the tomb.
The great Goddess is a theme that comes in many different forms and styles. Goddess spirituality is essentially focusing on the Goddess as the source of all life. Its celebrating her form through all life. The great Goddess in Goddess spirituality is the one who can heal, who can protect, and can do everything.
In Goddess based spirituality all you focus on is her energy. The Goddess is the one who gifts you with everything that you need to have in life. She is abundance. She is sexuality, she is passion. The Goddess is the fertile fields, the growing tree. She is the laughter of children and the fiery protection that parents have for their children. This Goddess is love and light but is also fierce and protective. She is also darkness and fears.
Theism and Goddess spirituality
In many pagan paths you find the concept of polytheism. That is a belief in many different Gods and Goddesses. When it comes to traditions and practices of Goddess based spirituality it ca be hard to define exactly if it is a polytheistic path or not. Goddess spirituality can be a polytheistic path or it can be simply a path with out any real form of theism. For now I am going to cover a few of the different theistic or deity centered ways that Goddess spirituality can be experienced.
In Goddess spirituality there are several ways that it can manifest. The primary form of Goddess spirituality is a form that is that of Panentheism. Here they believe that the Goddess is everything in the universe and beyond the universe. The great Goddess both made the universe and makes up the universe. The Goddess is here at all times and everything.
A related view of Goddess spirituality is that of Pantheism. In Pantheism the Goddess makes up all of the universe and all of the known reality we live in. She is everything here. The Goddess is the universe manifested. Just by living and experiencing life we experience her. There is no need for prayer or worship. Simply live life and enjoy the beauty and you have found the Goddess. The Goddess would be in all the food we eat, all the plants we see and any and all animals that you encounter.
Many people who follow Goddess spirituality are soft polytheists of sorts. These people believe that the Great Goddess has many faces and names. They believe that all Goddesses are aspects of the one Goddess. In soft polytheism they believe that she is so vast and so great that as humans we can not fully understand or appreciator all that she has to offer or even all of her mystery. So we created and experience her face in many different forms. In short those who follow a soft polytheistic path believe that no matter what name you use for the great Goddess you are worshiping her.
The other way that Goddess spirituality manifests soft polytheism is believing that one great Goddess created everything and that this Goddess is both male and female. In other words its not just the Goddesses that make up the Great encompassing Goddess. In this view they believe that even the Gods or male aspects of the divine make up aspects of the great Goddess as well as the feminine. This great Goddess is male and female all at once.
Hard polytheism . In Goddess worship through hard polytheism the great Goddess isn’t one Goddess. In this form of Goddess spirituality you are contacting the feminine divine forces through individual Goddesses. Some one who follows Goddess spirituality through the form of individual Goddesses as separate entities worships the Goddesses as feminine divine forms. Here they may worship the individual Goddesses for different reasons for their associations or for what ever reasons the Goddesses they worship call to them.
Then you have monotheistic Goddess worshipers. The monotheistic Goddess worshiper believes that there is only one divine force in the world. That one divine force is the Goddess. They believe that no other divine force in the universe. All the divine power and all divine influences come from this Goddess. They believe that everything came from this Goddess and to her everything will return. This is probably the most common form of Great Goddess worship and Goddess spirituality.
How to practice Goddess Spirituality
In Goddess spirituality the idea is that there are many different ways to practice Goddess spirituality. Like any spiritual and religious path it is going to be a very personal path and choice. Like all paths there will be different ways that you can go out and find the Goddess. There are many ways you can work and make a relationship with the great Goddess and be a part of Goddess spirituality.
The best advice I can give on Goddess spirituality and practicing it is to remember how important feminine energy is to life. All things in this world need both masculine and feminine energy in order to produce offspring and thus survive. Life is the gift of the Goddess. By appreciating life and enjoying life you are living with the Goddess and enjoying all that the Goddess has to offer you. That is a form of Goddess worship.
In the poem the charge of the Goddess there is a line that states “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”. This is one of the truths about true divine Goddess spirituality. In true Goddess spirituality doing the things that you enjoy, the things that move your spirit and make you feel whole are ways you can honor and be one with the Goddess. Yes sex and sexuality are implied in that wording but it means more than that. If you live to perform find ways to dedicate your performances to the Goddess. If you paint involve her in your activities and let her direct your painting. By being true to your inner self and your real joys and pleasures in life you are being true to her and letting her move you.
If you are the type of person who likes to do formal ritual than go for it. Goddesses and the divine in general do enjoy formal worship. When ever you are working with any sort of spirit of divine being its important to give them offerings of types at different times. This is how you worship them and stay in their presences. With the great Goddess and Goddess spirituality its not really any different. It just depends on how you interpret the Goddess in your version of Goddess spirituality.
Now you may think that Goddess spirituality is just for women. This is not true. While you may find and will find a majority of Goddess central or Goddess based spiritual paths are women only, this is in part because the Goddess spiritual movement has been tied in with feminine power and movements to empower women. Goddess spirituality also in many cases and ways focuses on women mysteries hence forth it is a female central path. There are men on this path its just different for them and they often times feel out of place.
Paths and traditions
The following is a list of known Goddess central and Goddess spirituality based paths.
Dianic Wicca-Formed by Z Buddapest
Reclaiming- Starhawks tradition a mixture of Dianic Wicca and Feri witchcraft
Goddess spirituality is not one of my expertise. It is an area that I have only done some vague research into. I have presented you with the information I have found. I am providing you with some resources now on Goddess spirituality that may be more beneficial to you,
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
The Book of Womens Mysteries by Z. Buddapest
The White Goddess Robert Graves
If you have a book or link on Goddess spirituality that you would like to share comment and I will add it to the list. I will also add them to the links pages as I get those resource pages up and running.