It's been almost a year since I chose the word "Priestess" as my power word for the year -- or rather, since it chose me. And over the last turn of the Wheel the work -- because above all, being a priestess is work -- has found me in the most unexpected places. For a long time I resisted applying the word priestess to myself, at least when I wasn't actively in a circle and leading a ritual, because it seemed too loaded, too pretentious. As a Goddess woman who is completely self-taught -- or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say, whose training has been completely self-directed, as I have had wonderful mentors -- rather than having been trained up through a formal coven system, I have balked at using the term for myself in any but the most basic of senses.
When I was a young woman in my early 20s, newly on a Pagan path, someone -- I no longer remember who -- put in my hands a copy of WomanSpirit Rising, edited by Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow. I had discovered Goddess-centered Craft a year or so before, when I attended a Spring Equinox celebration and was slightly confused (and then elated) when no male Godhead was invoked. The idea of an explicitly feminist, overtly political, Goddess-centered spirituality excited me -- a young activist who was really coming into her own political consciousness and who had begun to heal the deep wounds left by a childhood spent in the Church of Christ, with its punishing Father God.
That's the running joke whenever anyone in my circle pulls Kali Ma from one of my Goddess Oracle decks. Kali evokes a sense of simultaneous awe and revulsion, devotion and recoiling, from many people. The Hindu Dark Mother embodies so much that seems paradoxical -- endings and beginnings, creation and destruction, nurturing and punishment, love and hate, and -- yes -- Sex and Death. Her fearsome visage, her girdle of severed arms, her necklace of skulls all draw on our darkest fears. And yet the ultimate lesson of Kali Ma, it so often seems, is for us to be willing to find beauty in the horrific, to find the love in the dark nights of the soul, to find the new beginning in the fiery ending.
One of the things I love most about the Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr is that it includes many lesser-known and even obscure Goddess alongside those that are familiar to me. I appreciate the chance to learn about Goddesses who may have been overlooked in my mythological education, and to find connections with Goddesses from pantheons or cultures I may know little about.
This week brings the Baltic Goddess Haltia, Goddess of the Hearth and Home. She has much in common with the Estonia Goddess Holdja, and with Hearth Goddesses more generally. Honored among the Baltic Finns as the guardian of the hearth and hearthfire, Haltia lives on today as a general name for the house faeries or spirits who guard homes, water, graveyards and other places where humans dwell and carry out our daily activities.
This month's Full Moon brings us a lunar eclipse as well, and arrives hot on the heels of the Spring Equinox. Known variously as the Worm Moon, the Sap Moon, or the Crow Moon, March's Full Moon calls us to seek out the areas of balance and imbalance in our lives. It is very much in harmony with the overall energies of the Spring Equinox -- the time when we begin to turn from the inner work of the Winter to the outer work of Spring and Summer, when we move from contemplation to action. This Full Moon propels us to action, but gently so -- inviting us to examine the areas where we are still in need of nurturance and healing, where we have gotten out of balance and harmony with ourselves and our world.
This week, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, wisdom, music, arts, and learning comes into our lives to serve as guide. Beautiful Sarasvati appears when we are on the cusp of enlightenment, of new learning, of finding new ways to express ourselves. If you have set creative, spiritual, or intellectual goals for the coming Spring (in the Northern Hemisphere), Sarasvati has come to tell you that you are on the right path.