Yoga Wicca Buddha

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Taking the Veil

In the time of secrets, before dawn, the mists veil the mountains. In the time of silence, at midnight, wisps of clouds half-hide the moon. At the shore, the edge of mystery, the thinning surf shrouds the sand with lace. 


These veils—there and not there, insubstantial—grace and soften hard lines. They are compassion, they are ease, they are consolation.


I want a veil of mist and mystery, of lacey lightness, to waft over me and softly settle on me, shelter me, cover me. I want to draw it over me, blessing myself, crowning myself. I want to put myself under the wing of protection, and from this hiding place to look out from safety and look in with focus. In fact, I want to go within and within, to penetrate my darkness and find a deeper, richer one inside it. And then I want to look out, grounded in that powerful core.


The Songs of the Bible and the Charge of the Goddess give me the words of my prayer. “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wing,” I ask. And in response I hear: “If you find me not within yourself, you will never find me without…For I have been with you from the beginning.” 


Crowned with the veil, humble but glorious, like a goddess, like a saint, I come before my altar. The veil shields me from distraction, directs my gaze to the many images I adore: the Horned One, the Holy Mother, the Buddha, Artemis, Athena, Loki, Hermes, Dionysos…. Under the veil, from the veil, I see them as mirrors of possibility, of what—oh awesome thought—may lie within myself.


It’s the romance of holiness and mystery, things hidden and at the same time marked out. We  have always veiled the sacred—statues of the gods, the holy of holies in the temple—and asked those who approach it to veil themselves in silence and inward turning. All genders have worn the veil, have covered in humility before the mysteries. But in taking the veil, we also make ourselves sacred, declare ourselves sacred. 


It is before our own holiness that we humble ourselves. Veiled, I enter my inner temple, hoping to find something precious within.


The veil is woven by the goddess, by Orphic Persephone in her cave and the vowed virgin in her temple. It is woven from all the stories, all the myths in the echo chamber of world symbol and allusion, from beauty and destruction, trees and rivers and stars and oceans, from human endeavour and nature’s groaning. The world is woven, a veil for spirit. The cosmos is woven, particles interlacing, space and time the warp and weft. The virgin of Guadaloupe and Isis both wear the starry veil of the cosmos. It frames the face of the divine as it lives seen and unseen in the world, the face which is somehow our face as well.


“I am all that has been, and is, and shall be, and no mortal has yet lifted my veil,” says the Weaving Goddess. Neither do I seek to lift that veil, but rather to shelter under it, to be covered and hidden in a divine spouse. The veil takes the bride from fashion plate to votary, from pride to tenderness and sincerity.  


The veil takes me from the mundane to the mystery. And so I take the veil.  


Taking the veil I clothe myself in Goddess. Taking the veil I hide myself in God.




References: Charge of the Goddess, Psalm 17:8, Plutarch Isis and Osiris




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Archer has been trying to make sense of religion since her parents first abandoned her at Sunday School in the 60s. She’s a mom, yoga teacher and repository of useless bits of information on ancient religion, spiritual practices and English grammar. Check out her column “Connections” in Witches and Pagans.


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