The most physically inspiring experience that I have had as a Priestess and as a woman has been the reawakening of a conscious relationship with my womb.
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This year we decided to take a small break and celebrate Samhain and honour our ancestors by visiting the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, and join their revelries. It was a spectacular night. As we descended along the twisty lane to enter the small fishing village in the gathering dusk we were met by a host of witches, tourists and black clad Morris men- traditional British folk dancers with flaming torches and crow feathers in their tall top hats. The sound of drums and fiddles echoed off the cliffs above and mingled with the sounds of the sea and the reeling gulls.
Traditional Border Morris men (or sides) wear the colour black, to leave their identity behind and take on the role of spirits as they honour the underworld and the winter to come. They danced to ancient songs, their feet mirroring the turn of the year and the battles between winter and summer in the courtyard of the museum, where the many a witch of generations passed has donated their magical tools, and beneath the library that holds the history of our traditions going back centuries. The audience around them sat or stood enrapt, many of them being those who walk the old ways themselves, bedecked in their cloaks, with wide eyed children sitting at their feet dressed as sprites and spirits....
Already in Salt Lake City we could see that the sun was moving away towards a darker time of the year, even against the dazzling sunset backdrop of mountain peaks in the distance. I had dreamed since 1993 of attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions, not realizing that I would have taken on a whole new religious identity by the time I got to attend my first one this October. So immersed had I become in that path that I was invited to play the role of Isis in a ceremony honoring many of the traditional goddesses who have been worshiped around the world, from Amaterasu to Kali to Oshun and Brigid. Read more about Goddesses Alive here. For each of us costumed as a goddess, including a fabulous mask by noted artist Lauren Raine, there was no script. Our task was to be the goddess while narrators and music set the ambience for an audience sitting in the round.
In the weeks leading up to this performance I was focused on logistics: my first wig (think Donna Summer); jewelry, robe, choreography. I will not in this lifetime ever again resemble the willowy figure of Egyptian paintings, and I had no intention of wearing a tight, transparent sheath, so I opted for a shimmering loose caftan. Then two days before our flight I fell, twisting and breaking my ankle. Choreography would be limited to arm gestures and it was anyone’s guess whether I would be able to perform sans wheelchair....
You're invited to the global Third Road Faerie Samhain ritual. Attend wherever you are in the world.
The ritual is Friday, October 30, from noon to 1:00 EST.
We will honor our ancestors.
We'll also ask them for wisdom and power to fight oppression, that we may be fully free and help others gain freedom.
In this season of the ancestors, I remember W[illiam] Holman Keith (1900-1993), the Baptist minister who fell in love with the Goddess and so became one of the pioneers of the New Paganism in the United States.
From the jacket of his book Divinity as the Eternal Feminine, the first (1960!) American book of self-consciously pagan theology:
W. Holman Keith, born June 11, 1900 at Vincennes, Indiana, began his “pilgrimage of faith,” to use his own words, with evangelical Christian Protestantism. After taking a BA degree at Franklin College...he went on to earn the degrees of Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Systematic Theology at Newton Theological Institution...and an MA in Theology at the University of Chicago. His subsequent career included two brief pastorates at Baptist churches in Massachusetts and New York. However, he writes, “I was progressively disillusioned in the two theological schools I attended,” and he subsequently abandoned his vocation as a minister. His search for faith “at last found its haven in a small chapel in West Hempstead, Long Island, New York, known as the Church of Aphrodite, of which the Rev. Gleb Botkin was the founder, and the priest of Aphrodite.
Presently, the author writes, “the challenge of this truth commands all my loyalties of mind, heart, and will.
And so it would be to the very end of his life.
“Open the door”, said the wise woman
“Come in and sit down.
For it is she of great worth
Who wears the King’s crown”.
I looked at the wizened face
For answers that long I had sought
Deep pools of star-filled eyes returned my gaze
And told of mysteries carefully taught.
Her countenance was hypnotic
And fingers deftly moved to and fro
Her body moving in rhythm
As the web from the spinning did grow.