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Here in the SageWoman section of PaganSquare, our bloggers represent the multi-faceted expressions of the Goddess, feminist, and women's spirituality movements.
With Mardi Gras just around the corner I thought I'd share an excerpt from my first published book, Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations. You see, I lived the first thirty years of my life in New Orleans without a clue about the Pagan and Goddess roots of Mardi Gras. When you live in that Christian bubble, you tend not look beyond it, but then when you do, a tsunami of awakening might be the result, as it was for me.....
The essence of Goddess, as a celebration of life, holds sway in New Orleans at the very core of the people, even if they're unaware of it. Life there moves at a slower pace and New Orleanians see no reason to catch up. It is a city proud of its diverse cultural and ethnic heritage, where people look for just about any excuse to indulge in the pleasures of food, drink, and partying. There is a sense of life being a bit more in-sync with the natural rhythms and life’s simple pleasures. Despite the influence of the Catholic Church, the lifestyle in New Orleans is hardly dogmatic or puritanical. In the Big Easy, as the city is often called, the spirit of the Feminine is also reflected in the Old World charm of the architecture in the Vieux Carre, in celebrations such as Mardi Gras with its pagan roots dating back to the rituals of the Lupercalia, Cybele and Attis, and in the worship of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and various goddesses in the Yoruban pantheon.
Just a quick note for my readers here! I've just finished my first episode of my new radio show on Pagans Tonight Radio Network. Join me every other Wednesday for "All Acts of Love and Pleasure: Love, Sex, Dating, Sexuality, and Eroticism in a Pagan Context." I'm so excited to engage with the community in this new way, and to have a chance to talk about these things I am so passionate about.
You can listen to the archived episode, click here.
The zombie apocalypse provides a metaphor for moral plague. When a great deal of the population stumbles around like spiritual zombies, can other individuals still live a principled way of life?
Let's use the zombie apocalypse as a metaphor thusly: There's a moral plague in our society and, as time passes, more and more people fall prey to it.
Here's a way the metaphor might play out: When infected by this moral illness, people are no longer human, but feed off humans, including those they once loved and protected. We fight the zombies, chop off their heads, so they cannot hurt us—these once human but now spiritually derailed monsters.
As time passes, they rot, becoming less and less recognizable as human, and more and more terrifying. Despite our valiant efforts, more and more people are lost, even our loved ones. To protect ourselves from loved ones, we must decapitate them.
In this time of moral lethargy, when many people stumble around like spiritual zombies, what do we do?
In my college classes, I often tell my students that in working with people, we need to learn to think in circles, rather than in lines. Circles are strong. Circles are steady. Circles hold the space, circles make a place for others. Circles can expand or contract as needed. Circles can be permeable and yet have a strong boundary. Linked arms in a circle can keep things out and show solidarity. Linked energy in a circle can transform the ordinary into sacred space. Hands at each other’s backs, facing each other, eye level. Working together in a circle for a ritual, change is birthed, friendships are strengthened, and love is visible.
--Ritual Recipe Kit for Women’s Ceremonies digital by BrigidsGrove
Recently I have noticed a lot of offerings for sacred circles and sacred temples and councils of women that are all online or virtual. The websites advertising such programs often have beautiful photos of firesides and dancing and I find myself thinking, where is the REAL fire? If we spend all of our time at computers enjoying virtual sisterhoods and looking at pictures of fires, where are our real opportunities to dance by the fire hand in hand? This week, against all odds, I managed to have a meaningful conversation with friends at the skating rink. We talked about the difference between online and face-to-face connection and why online connections can feel “cleaner” and less messy or complicated than face-to-face. It reminds me of my experiences in creating rituals for my family. In the books it looks so easy and fun. In real life, babies have poopy diapers and my sons make fart jokes and my papers blow away and I speak in a snappy tone of voice and things take longer than I expect. It is same with women’s circles. Online, we can look at pretty pictures of flower crowns and crystal grids and flower mandalas and daydream how wonderful it would be to have a real women’s circle, but in real life people don’t always like each other, we interrupt each other, we talk too much or not enough or about the “wrong” things. As the facilitator of a ceremony in real life, portions might lag, people laugh at the wrong times, guided meditations might bring up painful experiences, people stop listening to each other, or they might forget something they were asked to bring. I might lose my place, sing off-key, or get distracted when someone is sharing something important.
Life has its up and downs, its moments of excitement and most importantly of all - change. Nothing in life is ever the same, and opportunities abound if we have the courage to take the steps down the path towards our goals. It is with this in mind that I am so excited to say that Druid College UK is born, and to share this wonderful news with all of you.
After months of planning and preparation with Kevin Emmons (otherwise known as Snowhawke) from our sister college in Maine USA, the Druid College is pleased to announce its opening, dedicated to Earth-centered spirituality, to the integrity of our natural home, and to the crafting of sacred relationship. In short, The Druid College devotes its presence—and it is its sole intent—to prepare priests of Nature.
Foundations for this life-long journey are established by a three-year, intensive study. Unlike contemporary universities, Druid studies are furthered not only by personal reflection but primarily by ongoing personal connection and spiritual guidance of (i.e., apprenticeship to) a Druid Priest. In the UK as of 2015, those people are Joanna van der Hoeven and Robin Herne.
Being a priest of nature does not mean being an intermediary, but instead living a life in service, crafting a sacred relationship with the land, the ancestors and the gods. It requires service to the community as well as the land, wherein the priest acts as guide, witness or celebrant to a journey or journeys of crafting sacred relationship.
There are many Druid Orders and other pagan and earth-based organizations that offer solid training within their respective traditions. The Druid College is for those who wish to journey further. We wish to work with those who want to be ‘carriers’ of Nature-based spirituality – as compared to ‘followers’. We saw a need for a programme for people who desire to go deeper, for those who wish to be in service, to fill the role of priest for their community and the land they dwell in.