I'm fine with this sense of not belonging in the religious houses for the most part now. Yet when my call to become a Priestess first beckoned me, it was the pain of being rejected by the religious folks, the so-called faith filled ones that came up to be healed. Because while I don't fit into any of the major religions, despite my great thirst for a devoted and surrendered life, I also didn't feel I truly fit into any pagan, wiccan, Goddess or any other ancient or alternative circle either. I was a bit of a spiritual misfit, an orphan of sorts with no home that I could find on Earth.
Where my lack of belief in a Devil, a male God living on a cloud and my refusal to conform to the idea that I as a women am to play a supporting, subordinate role in this drama of life counts me out of the religious world, I feared that my lack of a belief in many deities or the necessity rather then the desire to worship in a circle or a prescribed fashion, along with my personal choice not to try to manifest or use magic to make a situation unfold in my desired direction counted me out of all other potential spiritual circles. This made the first half of my spiritual journey a solo one, I just didn't care to explain my renegade brand of beliefs to anyone anymore after the run ins that I had found in the fellowship of the churches. I had been disillusioned to find that nobody was actually interested in hearing why I didn't believe in a Devil, rather they were waiting for me to finish speaking so that I could be corrected and saved. This rang true for the many names but same Source conversation, or the pointing out of Bible verses where Jesus urges His followers not to proselyte, or discussing the misogynistic writings and practices of Paul, deemed St. Paul, none of these were discussions to be had, they were misbeliefs to be corrected and if not corrected then I was a lost soul to be prayed for and turned away from. I wasn't about to face another rejection from a group of spiritually practicing women and men if I could avoid it.
That avoidance melted away however when the Goddess touched me and I felt almost compelled to join a Goddess circle that my yoga teacher invited me to. In that circle I met a Priestess and as months wore on and Goddess circles were attended the sharing from this Priestess touched me deeply. One fateful day I heard the call from the Goddess to become a Priestess. I began to sweat as I tried to wrap my head around how in the world I could take up a role such as Priestess while staying integral to my personal truths, truths that fit into nobody else's ideals.
I thank Goddess for the Priestess that mentored me, she was so accepting and playful with me. I prayed for a few days on this calling, unsure of what to do. I made my decision when, the young boy that I cared for who spoke very few words began to chant 'priestess, priestess, priestess' as I changed his diaper. His family were atheists and I had never uttered the word in front of him, there was no way that he had ever heard that term before, I knew that the Goddess was speaking through him to me and in that moment I took that as my solid answer to go a little deeper.
With trepidation I called Aquarius, the first Priestess who mentored me.
"I think I'm being called to become a Priestess," I told her. She chuckled, she had already told me in a circle that she led that she knew that I was a Priestess of Isis and had served Isis in a past life with her.
"BUT," I interjected before she could speak. "I don't believe in deities, I don't believe that there is more then One Source so I won't be a Priestess of Isis, or any other Goddess. BUT," I continued before she could respond, "I will be a Priestess of the Butterfly Spirit." The Native name that was bestowed upon me is "Little Soaring Butterfly" and I understood working with animal totem medicine, and while my Priestess commitment would eventually transform into being a Priestess of Grace that works with Butterfly medicine this was where I began.
"That's just fine," she said in such a calming manner that I felt my defenses fall away as a great wave of peace descend upon me. "But I know that you're a Priestess of Isis, even if you don't in this lifetime." She just had to get that in, we both laughed.
This was where the length of my journey that has brought me the most joy and peace began. I found that the Goddess path embraced all of me, despite my technicalities, despite my 'I believe in this but not in that' defensive shield that I had thrown up in an attempt to ensure that I knew whether I was really being accepted into a circle or whether I was being charmed into being changed, converted, 'saved'. There was nothing that I did or didn't believe that counted me out in Goddess worshipping, and while my father still insists that I'm pagan and I'm often referred to as wiccan I can happily say that while I don't define myself as either, I don't define myself as anything, if there is a term that I needed to define my particular faith with it would be Feminine Mysticism. I made up the term as many people were confused as to what I was and rather then call myself a Spiritual Mutt (which may be even more apropos) I took the two fundamental principles that I know to be true and have merged them together. The practice of Mysticism : recognizing only one power and the practice of Feminine spirituality: recognizing all life that is manifest as Divine and embracing the embodied experience on this Earth plane. The Goddess and the open spiritual community that I have been guided towards has taught me that there is no way to define people, faith may have a title that is used to offer an insight into the brand of worship and belief that a particular person practices, but the name of a faith is not the defining factor of a person.
Because of this all inclusive embrace that I have received I have had the pleasure of becoming ordained as a Priestess, a Priestess that serves Grace, I have enjoyed Buddhists meditations, Tantric workshops, breathworks, Shambala talks, Taoist teachings, Christian Mystic literature, Metaphysical church services and have even been able to take a deep breath and step into a church or two to join my Bonma who goes it alone to church most Sunday's, when I would fly home to visit family. I no longer join her as I can't justifiably sit in a pew knowing the history of the massacre of women that was done in the name of religion that has yet to be amended, but on those occasions when I did join her I no longer cared about whether I would be fully accepted for what I believed or didn't believe. I had found my tribe, I wasn't going it alone in my faith anymore and while there are many religions that are not as all inclusive, the Goddess embraces us all, She is after all our Mother.
The great gift in this journey for me has been my discovery of the Goddesses. I had resisted them so much at the beginning for fear that I would have to debate my belief in only One Source. I had also resisted them due to preconceived notions that I had which led me to believe that knowing and working with the many Goddesses meant that I had to believe in many different goddesses and gods as distinct entities. However when I saw that there were no women or men in the Goddess circles looking to convert or convince me I began to open up not only to the One Goddess, but also to becoming acquainted with the many Goddesses. I found that I do believe in the Goddesses, as Archetypes, as energetic expressions of the One Goddess on this plane of duality. The great joke has been that I have became almost obsessed with following the Goddess archetypes, phases of the Moon and astrological signs that occur on a daily basis, I have found that utilizing the Goddess archetypes has opened me up more fully and more deeply into my feminine self. So as one who was so opposed to the idea of deities I can happily say that I have been converted through my own experience and now work with them on a daily basis.
As I became happy and solidified in my then new path as a Priestess I came across this in the 2009 We Moon calendar "It's not like the different goddesses are all in their own special heavens with the door closed. All are archetypical manifestations of this universal female energy. Access is not an energy outside ourselves, but an energy within. Outside/inside, in ultimate reality it makes no difference. " It seems that my beliefs were not as unique as I thought.
Today I give thanks to the Goddess and Her many expressions in my life. I thank Her for guiding me gently and opening me up as fully as I am able to open. Through Her grace I have been led to a path, a community and a way of life that truly embraces all of what is Truth to me and honours me as I am.
Those deities that I had feared which are now such an integral part of my daily life have opened me up to a greater and vaster experience of the Divine Goddess and of my many different aspects of self. Through these deities I have discovered within myself:
The Lover: I have found a way to tap into the Lover aspect of the Divine Feminine through Her expression as Aphrodite. As Aphrodite I have learnt the Divine pleasures of romance, sensuality, ecstasy, beauty and being adored.
The Maiden: My maiden self was deeply, deeply wounded. During a six hour dance to honour the Mahavidyas, the 10 different faces of Shakti incarnated from child to Crone, I found the Goddess Lalita Tripura Sundari. When the Tantrika's who were guiding us through the riutalized dance introduced us to the ten altars and explained which Goddesses they were , I dreaded meeting Lalita, the teenaged Goddess, and coming face to face with my Maiden. As the dance began and I bowed down at her altar, I was so very quickly transformed, I found the heart of my true Maiden self as this expression of the Goddess took me back to my true, untarnished inner Maiden. I found my sense of play, innocence, wonder and lightness from the expression of Lalita Tripura Sundari and experienced a restoration of harmony and balance that has been unparalleled.
The Mother: While I was in the Maiden phase of my life the Goddess was the Mother in an all encompassing way to me, once I became pregnant however, She began to come to me as Mother Mary. This is the aspect of Goddess that I turn to as I learn to mother my baby Maiden. In the dark of the long nights of teething or fussing, when I feel my fuse running short I go within and ask Her, "Mother Mary, how do I do this?" I ask Her, "please Mother through me," and I am lifted above the moment and infused with the gentle, nurturing energy of Mother Mary.
The Sorceress: Rhiannon, Medusa and Hectate all teach me about the potent energy that I hold within, the power to image a creation and to bring it to fruition through connecting my Source self to this Earthly realm. I have learnt about the magic within me and what it means to me through working with these Goddess archetypes. As the magic of the Source of all is tapped into, these Goddess expressions have taught me how to channel that energy, how to contain it, direct it and surrender to it's mighty power.
The Crone: Ceridwen, Spiderwoman and Morrigan are a few of the Crone Goddesses that connect me to the wisdom of my ancestors, the wisdom that my grandmothers hold within them and the wisdom that they have forgotten. The Crone Goddesses speak to me through the bones of this Earth, through my rocks, crystals, Moon blood and the ground beneath my bare feet. When I find these aspects of the Crone within me I am brought deep within, into my bones, my blood and find that I have the wealth of a million Grandmother's wisdom already living within me. These Goddesses remind me to keep sacred our land, to honour the ways of the old and to care for the elders in my community.
The Healer: When I first bought my Goddess Oracle deck I immediately fell in love with one card above all else, it was the Goddess Ixchel, of all of the cards that I pulled it took me two full years before I finally pulled her. She has come forth as the Divine expression of the power that I hold within me when, as a Priestess, I connect to the majesty of the Heavenly realms while also opening as deeply as I can to the elements and allowing all of these energies to flow through me and to crack me wide open, making a conduit of me. This Goddess has taught me how to let the I AM energy use me to restore balance and harmony, she has taught me surrender, focus, rootedness and the depths of true power that can be tapped into.
The Creatrix: Saraswati, Shakti, Mary Magdalene and Gaia are some of the Goddess archetypes that have taught me about the nature of creation, creation that comes from the imaging of other realms to be expressed here in this one. My second and fifth chakra has been illuminated by these expressions of Goddess and turned up to burn bright as I sit down to create.
Above are but a few examples of how the different archetypes, the Goddess deities have come to teach me more about the One Divine Goddess, She comes to me in many different ways with many different names. I have learned that for each lesson I face there is a corresponding Goddess that has the answers and the tools that I need to further my learning. The deities that I had so fervently denied believing in have taught me more then I had ever imagined I would be open minded enough to receive.
In the end what I have learnt is that I was not only longing for a community that would accept me exactly as I was, I was also longing for the self-freedom to allow myself to believe and to grow in the ways that inspired me most. I thank the Goddess for being slow and tender with me in those beginning years on my Priestess path and for drawing to me women who were gentle, playful and not attached to the labels that I held so close to me in those years.
My hope is that as women and men we may all be honoured to believe, worship, practice and journey homeward in the direction that flows the smoothest for us and that we be met with the love, acceptance and embrace that the Goddess and Her community has given me, and most importantly of all, that each of us can feel safe enough to truly let go of all that we think that we know in a surrendered act of humility and open up to all that the Goddess knows in us and through us. I pray for a world of women and men who have the self freedom and confidence to be exactly who they are and to worship in the flavour and design that suits them best. Let us shine our rainbow light Homeward bound.
Grace Be With You
Priestess of Grace
Candise Soaring Butterfly