Goddess Mysteries

Rachma Mami Ishtar – Winter Solstice ceremony (2005?)

Beloved Sister in Goddess,

Even though its late, I thought I’d write you a brief account of tonight’s ceremony before the current of life catches me up and sweeps me on round the next bend. (My son is home early in the morning).

I had trouble tuning into the ceremony earlier in the week – lots of resistance there apparently – so it was only on Friday that I actually got as far as some simple instructions for how to fashion a ritual around the mystery of birthing/birth.  I found it very satisfying to chant/sing various permutations and combinations of the names RACHMA MAMI ISHTAR to the accompaniment of a simple drone beat from the low G string of my guitar (which I still have no idea how to play properly).  I used it in much the same way as I might use a hoop drum for trance work, but the guitar gave me a strong anchoring note to work around and come back to at regular intervals.  So that got included into the ceremony.  It seemed much simpler than last time.  It was both big and small for me – small in that not too many surprises, and the energy of birthing I am really quite familiar with by now.  Important in that what was wanting to be birthed through me is this whole Ishtar thing I’m working with, the further unfolding of “the work” which I’m already committed to.  (In fact I was too occupied to consider this too much tonight which was a blessing really)  And because birthing – even when you’ve done it before – isn’t especially easy or comfortable even when it is satisfying.

I think the ceremony worked though.   I sat down at the end, first thinking that I hadn’t worked particularly hard.  But then I felt my feet and legs tingling and realised I had been more in trance/pumping energy that I had credited.  And needed to sit a bit.

Anyway, to begin at the beginning… Karuna Nur arrived early to help me set up, which was lovely.  We had everything looking lovely by about 10 minutes to seven, when I suddenly realised we hadn’t put out any chairs for everyone to sit on.  So we did that.  10 women had told me that they planned to be there, 11 women turned up.  8 of the ones I was expecting plus three of their friends.

So we were a nice sized circle.

Standard opening.  Began by cleansing with bells – ourselves and then the space.  Then I called in the temple guardians (as usual) in the four corners, and invoked the four aspects of Ishtar lighting a candle to each on her own altar.  Then we all stood holding hands in a circle and connected to the deep earth / ancestors and to the cosmic energies through the waterlily meditation.   That felt pretty good.

Then I invited people to meditate on the energy of birthing in their lives at the moment, and to offer up prayers to any or all of the faces of Ishtar at one or more of the altars by lighting a candle and/or making a written or drawn prayer in coloured ink on a small piece of paper.  Including the option to offer up any fears or resistances that might be there for them.   Whilst they did this, I did my chanting improvisation to the drone accompaniment on my guitar, and invoked the energy of the Birthing Mother.  I had my eyes closed most of the time, allowing myself to go deeper into trance as I sang, but I opened my eyes momentarily two or three times and was aware that some people were moving around, standing or kneeling in front of different altars.  Others were wrapped up snugly in their blankets sitting on their chairs in the circle.  This went on for some time.  Then  most people were sitting and I gradually wound the energy of the chant down to a stand-still.

Then we all stood again, close in the circle, and I invited us all to imagine the earth in the centre.  To feel our connection to her.  To feel our circle hugging her close.  To feel her roundness.  To remember our attunement from the previous ceremony to her moment by moment pregnant being, and to become aware of her need to birth herself anew at this time.  To hold her in this.  And to know that in holding her we were holding ourselves, because we are not seperate but a part of her.  Holding the part of ourselves that is birthing, holding the part of ourselves that is being born anew into the world.  And then we reached out our arms to find the hands and make a basket to hold her.  And then we intoned RAHM a few times.  And then MAMI.  And then RAHM again.  And then we began to move our circle very slowly sunwise by rocking in on the right foot and out on the left and gradually progressing slightly to the right.  And then energy rose and fell in waves of birthing as we chanted and rocked RAHM (etc),  MAMI (etc), and each time we came back to chanting MAMI the rhythm got a little faster and the movement got a little faster… and there were some very primal moments… And then, in a supreme birthing effort, we all got ourselves born by coming through under the arms as we intoned a final MAMI together… and some got tangled and needed a little help, and some landed in an uncomfortable position and needed to adjust themselves.  And then we were all together in the big circular hug.  Holding each other.  Being held.  I offered a prayer out loud and invited others to voice anything they wanted to add.  I spoke how tender and vulnerable we all are in these birthing moments and how we need to be held by our community, by our sisters.  After a longish silence which we all held together, one person and then one other felt moved to speak their own prayers.  And then I was wondering how to end this very tender, vulnerable space.  So I felt to pass a blessing around the circle.  I turned to the woman on my right and held her heart – front and back – and spoke a blessing of being held, of there being One who sees her beauty, even when she cannot, of knowing herself loved – and then invited her to pass the blessing on with whatever words she felt moved to… and so it went, from one woman to the next… all the way back until it was me receiving the blessing of being held by Bronwyn who was standing on my left.

The women sat patiently whilst I did the honours and closed the ceremony, and then it was done.

It felt like a special prayerful space.  Felt like a very good way of honouring the darkness of the solstice.  And at the end I saw that there were lots of candles burning on the altars and folded prayers tucked in around the edges of the offering plates.  Which I will give to the earth tomorrow by burying them I think, along with my own offering (of small flowers from my garden and a lemon from my tree) that sat in the Gaia bowl at the foot of the birthing altar.

It was nice to have the circle grown a little larger.  The whole thing felt quite satisfying really.

And then we had tea and biscuits, and some people went home while some stayed a little while for a chat.  And I had some good help with the packing up, which was a definite blessing.

What I didn’t do this time was ask the women to call in any beings or presences they wanted to be there in the opening segment.  Didn’t pop into my head to do so.  I think it was nice that we did that last time, so perhaps I’ll think of it next time.  But I suppose each ritual will probably come out a little differently.

Wish you could have been here, and I look forward to the day that is coming when we get to do this stuff together.

Lots and lots of love to you.  I hope your long weekend went well and brought the little space of renewal you were looking for.

Blessings from your sister,

Ishara.

2006

After the Quickening – 2005

Beloved Ishtar,

your quickening overwhelms me.

It’s that scarey feeling, of this things that I have wanted, asked for, even celebrated

and now realise gradually is really happening, nearly past the point of no return.

And yet it is gratifying, to begin to feel that what Andromeda used to say to me, about becoming the fullness of the priestess that I am, is finally beginning to bear fruit, to come within reaching.

 

After The Quickening

10 May 2005

 

Quickening, quickening
into increasing life –
is this the small flutter of excitement?
or the flutter of fear within my belly?
Breathing, breathing into the mystery…

Power flows through me,
the opening flood of baraka
I prayed for.

Clothed in Her juices
I feel the growing strength of my capacity
to hold ground
to trust the flow
to let myself know what I know.

Afterwards

I sit down, stoned on prayer,
and look at the stunned faces of the women
that seem to say
some unexpected potency just happened here

–  Am I pregnant?

 

A small squall of panic tries to rise –
What am I getting myself into???
But I hold fast to my Lover’s hand, for reassurance.

Previously I wore my Goddess-consciousness like a ceremonial robe
putting it away in the cupboard between uses
thinking to return to the familiar parameters of my own daily muddle.

One day soon, my Beloved moves in
and then
what ever I do, where ever I am
there SHE IS! 

~

Lover, you and I are pregnant :

Time to put the house in order

Time to begin figuring out how you and i

can live together in the one body

Time to stop crossing fingers and hoping for the best

Time to roll up my sleeves and get on with it, now

Its quickening.

 

I can feel myself repeatedly squeezing your hand for reassurance… if you think this is bad, wait for the birth.  Ah, that’s a familiar refrain!   No, no… the birthing when it comes will be magnificent, you wait and see.   As Sonja so wisely said – I’ll just have to trust to the Goddesses to take care of the ones who are spiritually opened … and after all, it isn’t me who arranges who comes, or who decides what will happen.  So I’ll leave all these details in your capable hands Beloved, and try to get on with the bits that are mine to do.. mostly about surrender and trusting.

I trust and pray that the right space will be forthcoming for the healing work, if that is truly what you desire from and for me now, and for my capacity to recognise it when I see.

 

much love to you,

Ishara.

Threshold mysteries

Cyclical time, thresholds and spirals

Claiming the mysteries of the flesh, connection to earth, to the blessing of embodiment, gifts of connection to the ancestral realm  – the great birthing – of consciousness into the world of form

Connection to the mysteries of the breath, accessing the star realms, inspiration, soul potential, capacity for the communion of consciousness, interconnection of awareness, unborn spirit, starsong/soulsong  – mystery of spiritual nourishment, soulful sustenance poured out from the cosmic breast of the Mother. blood transformed into light

Connection to the mysteries of blood, inner ownership of the blood cycles, of personal power,  cultivating the holy red inner fires – holy aliveness, the ability to hold and express our tantric natures, the beginning of sacred sexuality and the fullness of womanpower – mystery of the enthronement of goddess consciousness in our hearts and wombs – becoming the chalice, the container.

Opening to the mysteries of desire,  fertile flow and the gift of surrender. Love’s dissolving power.  Having cultivated the container, to melt, merge and be transformed.  – mystery of transformation through love, the experience of becoming the beloved of the Great Lover.

2006

Why the mysteries matter

I’d like to speak a little about some of the gifts that the Ishtar Mysteries have to offer to women/the future, as I see them…

Spirituality that is grounded in the practical life-experiences of ordinary women

A life-affirming spirituality which values the wisdom of women’s bodies, the connecting power of sexuality and erotic relationship,  the physical and emotional processes of bringing forth and nurturing children, in a culture which increasingly does not…

Experiential affirmation of our original blessing as women, of our own innate beauty and worthwhile-ness as female human beings.  A healthy sense of self-worth empowers our creativity and our capacity to take positive action in the world

A shared spiritual framework which assists us as women to find points of connection… to bridge the islands of individuality which our culture is increasingly creating… to find each other…  to discover the  synergy of strength, creativity and wisdom that can emerge when women connect with other women in a supportive environment

A spiritual context for our own efforts to take care of ourselves, our families, our communities and our little bit of the Earth… The experiential knowledge of being in relationship to a Higher Power.    This experiential knowing helps sustain our emotional resilience and spiritual buoyancy in the face of a global environmental outlook with increasingly huge potential for inducing numbness and despair…

Spiritual technology to assist with fertility/conception (and childbirth and motherhood) as we head into a future where these become less and less able to be taken for granted.

Restoring cyclical time – a spiritual framework which links the cycles of nature with the cycles of our inner and outer lives as women…  To me that helps deflect this sense of whizzing towards impending doom which is gradually overtaking the culture at large and restores us to a sense of belonging within the natural world rather than being outside/alienated form it.

Times and spaces dedicated to the remembering of the sacred in life… Restoring a sense of sacredness to a postmodern secular materialist world in which essentially everything is a commodity to be bought, sold and consumed.

19/3/2006

Mystery cycle – The Gate of Desire

My dearest Sister,

Time to tell about last night’s ceremony: approaching the threshold of Desire and awakening the Lover within… the eighth point on the Ishtar wheel, and the final ceremony for me before returning to the place where we began – around the autumn equinox last year (before we met, I think).

I did have difficulty creating enough clear space in my life in the days leading up to the ceremony… But woke early on Thursday morning with a memory of reading a passage in a book on tantra that I was browsing in a bookshop one day last year, about a visit the author made to a Tantra temple in India where she described a yoni fountain, with the water pouring in an endless stream out of the wall… So that day and the next I rushed around buying bits and putting together a small fountain of my own – no time to craft the image out of my sleep, but instead a small version of the large overflowing urns they had in my local water features  shop….   The pot I bought was charcoal grey on the outside, and I tried painting the inside purple, but the acrylic paint just bubbled off as soon as I put water in… However, the overall effect was good.

The ceremony itself turned out to be very simple.

Before we began, I chalked a simple labyrinth on the floor, with the entrance/exit in the northwest, in front of the evening’s altar  (representing the Gate of Desire) with the overflowing water pot, a candle, and one or two other bits and pieces.

It was a very warm night, so we began by purifying/cleansing ourselves with cold lavender-water cloths  (I froze them by accident, but they soon melted again).  The cold refreshing feeling on face, neck and arms was really lovely.

Then we moved into the sacred space and the women sat on chairs around the circle, whilst I invoked the energies/presence of the Guardians, energetically opened the Gate of Desire, and awoke the Ishtar currents at each of the altars in the usual way.  We then moved into the waterlily/open heart meditation – standing and holding hands together in the centre of the space.

Sitting down again, for some quiet meditation, (whilst Ishara desperately sought guidance on what needed to be happening now?!)… Hand on heart, connecting with own heart beat, hearing/echoing its speaking “Ish-Tar  Ish-Tar” etc…  for some moments…   Gathering up my drum I began a simple heart beat.

…and (attempting to keep the rhythm going) voiced the words that began to flow into my head (a bit like being an interpreter  – hearing and then voicing).  Wish I knew exactly what those words were. Some kind of attunement to this mystery of desire’s threshold.  Calling on the Goddess, calling her forth into this space… asking to encounter – and be shown – something – anything really – to take each of us more deeply into this mystery… There was something in there about oneness, becoming one.. I remember there was something about our desires leading us to where we need to be, even when it seems to us that we are wandering in a confused muddle, wandering around in circles.. Something about surrendering, which is about melting into the Goddess, which is not about putting ourselves beneath or less than, which is not about submitting or sacrificing ourselves. The drum did something interesting like changing rhythm, building to a crescendo and then slowing again.  Towards the end I remember voicing something about desire coming in continuing waves – whether we be waiting for the wave to come, riding high on the crest of the wave, or feeling like we are crashing down / the wave breaking over us, still always and ever connected to and a part of the wave, a part of the great ocean of desire….

With which the drum & words abruptly ceased.  I stood up, went across to the red altar in the north (our focus from the previous mystery) and, gathering up the tray of frangipani flowers, offered them around the circle to all my sisters.

We then spent a few moments connecting with our flowers, and then there were more words coming… about the flower being a product of whatever growth of self/selfhood/sense of power and autonomy we have accomplished in this past bit of time..  Reflecting on this, contemplating our flower.  About every flower being the product of a seed which sprouted and grew into a plant, more or less easily, through whatever challenges it encountered… a plant which put forth flowers/a flower.  And that this growth, this maturation which is the flower, is in some way an invitation, some kind of invitation to the world…

A space, in which each woman as she felt ready, approached the Altar of the Gate of Desire, prayerfully, with her flower in hand.  Very luckily I had exactly the right cd on hand, with a gentle song sung by women’s voices with a refrain that goes “So give yourself to love, if love is what you’re after, open up your heart to tears and all the laughter…” which I left on repeat for the duration…  Some of the women chose to offer their flowers first, before walking the labyrinth, some carried their flower with them and offered it up as they came back out.  The chalk lines on the floor didn’t exactly stand out, and some women did an interesting little dance with finding the way back out from the centre, but the energy was lovely, and it worked just right with the seven of us who were there.

When all were done, we stood again, joining hands  in the centre of the space, while I jumped forward to another track on the cd “We are opening up in sweet surrender to the luminous love-light of the One”… again just right.  And when we had been singing and swaying and opening up a little, I retrieved the dish of freshly cut mango and peace pieces from the altar – and moved around the inside of the circle feeding everyone, whilst they continued holding hands and singing and generally getting into the energy of the moment.  Then we passed the dish around the circle, each woman feeding the woman next to her, and then back the other way.. and then making eye contact with the woman opposite, and crossing the circle to feed her, and part way through I realised that we were tracing a seven pointed star, which was just so perfect I could hardly believe it… and there was still plenty of sticky juicy fruit in the dish, so then we passed it around and fed ourselves!! …. By this time we were all pretty juicy and sticky and happy… and as I said to the woman next to me as we reached out to join hands again – “May I join my stickiness to yours?”     Then taking up the chalice of liqueur mead, I called Ishtar again (“Now that you have us exactly as you like us!…”), to bless this chalice with her juicy bliss essence, that it might awaken the Lover in each of us… And then partake of Her goodness – dipping my fingers in and sucking them, and passing the chalice to the woman sunwise from me to partake by her own preferred method…

A closing prayer circle – for voicing/affirming/asking whatever was there in each of us to voice/affirm/ask… I felt such gratitude to have been given such a space, and such a beautiful circle of women to share it with.

I can’t quite describe to you the energy that we shared together  – but it was light, and happy, and words like open and juicy tend to spring to mind… and everyone was smiling.

I am sure when I do this ceremony again it will come out differently, because the way that it unfolds is so dependant on where I am at, and who is with me, and on the inspiration that flows on the night…

And I definitely felt challenged in the anticipation – to be able to embrace and embody and voice these resonant qualities of the Divine Feminine which are so juicy and abundant and explicitly erotic… so I can see why I needed to come to it last. And expect that its expression in the mysteries will continue to deepen and change as my capacity to hold it deepens and evolves…   As you can imagine, it stirred up the memory of that inward mystery I experienced  at Mariam’s retreat last year – and my own yearning/fear to return to that expanded state of being.

I hope these simple words and your own deep connection to the Star Goddess will have awakened some of the resonances of this mystery in your own being, because it was so simple and so delightful.

So there we are, becoming Lover-ly, awakening and embracing our capacity for desire, our capacity to become juicy and melt into the Beloved… as the wheel turns again towards the great mystery of conception, in which we shall once again be transformed from within by Love, so that something new can in due course be birthed into the world.

 

2006

Mother mysteries – In Her Arms

23.9.06

Mother mysteries – In Her Arms

My dear sister in the Goddess,

Last night we celebrated the mystery of mother and child – picture the classic Madonna picture of the mother with the child in her arms and you are in the zone.

Took me a little bit of concentration to settle into the space, partly because of working in a new space – the newly created sanctuary at the back of Tamara’s shop – and partly because one of the two other women present was my oldest (ie. most longstanding) friend in the world who I’ve known since I was twelve.  I’m pretty sure that last night is the first time she’s come to one of my ceremonies, certainly the first time she’s come to any of the Ishtar work, and it was hard not to feel a little self-conscious.   For a little while it looked like it might just be her and me, but then Karuna-Noor arrived, Goddess be praised, and her familiar and supportive presence helped a lot.

I arrived at the shop early, and it took me the best part of an hour to re-organise the space and set up the four altars in the centre of the four walls.  It is very cosy. A little small really for the greater mysteries, for which I prefer a more spacious feeling – there’s barely room to find spaces for ten chairs between the various altar places.  But it felt like it was important to do this first ceremony in the new space in the shop, and as there were only three of us, it didn’t feel too crowded.  (It’s the perfect space for my regular Monday night ceremony, which has a much more simple set up with a single round altar in the centre of the room and a circle of chairs around.  That is coming along beautifully, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with more people soon).

One good thing about holding last night’s ceremony at the shop is that it gave me the necessary nudge to go in there ahead of time, on Friday morning, and do some energetic work to properly consecrate the space as an Ishtar temple for when I am working in there. Which feels good.  Still haven’t done this properly in my new home, which is kind of weird, because normally it’s the first thing I do even before I move in, but perhaps there’s some internal resistance running at present, because I still haven’t…

Back to last night.

I opened the space/the ceremony by invoking the four guardians at the cross-quarters, and then the foundation practice to call in the energies of the four aspects of Ishtar and awaken the banners and altars.

Then the three of us did the waterlily meditation to centre and connect.

From there, we resumed our seats and I went into a deeper trance and spoke a little about the this particular mystery point… the babe birthed midwinter, having taken her first breath, and having taken in with her first breath her connection to the whole wide starry cosmos and the deep rich earth beneath and around her, continues the slow process of growing a self.  Self-awareness dawns through the mirroring we find in our Divine Mother’s eyes – wherever we find her, whether in the eyes of our first mother or another someone who loves us, or out in nature, in a tree or a rock – wherever we find ourselves mirrored.   (Something like that anyway, I was in a relatively deep trance and it was quite hard to keep speaking the words as they were given to me)

It is easy, at least for me at present, to feel somewhat embarrassed about making the invitation to allow ourselves to be little, to want and need to be held by something bigger than ourselves. And yet it is so essential too.  It’s an important part of our truth.  And this point in the cycle is about allowing ourselves to totally feel that, to experience that littleness, and to allow ourselves to fully trust again that we can and will be lifted up and held in Mother’s arms.  And to know that the maternal energy, that unconditional maternal love is completely responsive.  Responding to our cries. So that if we call out and ask, She will respond.  But we have to begin by being willing to call out to Her.

So we each took a candle, and having contemplated that within us which is little and wants to be held, each lit our candle at the altar of Ishtar of the East, the stellar mother of light, as a prayer to be lifted up and held.

And then we moved our chairs closer in front of her altar, and I sang a spontaneous prayer.

It felt right to make a space for speaking what was in our hearts and minds, for asking for help with anything that was troubling us, and for lighting more candles.  Which turned out to be very moving experience.

And when we had lit all the candles, the invitation was to place our hands on our own hearts, and allow ourselves to feel a loving presence around us, holding us in beautiful coloured light or warm nurturing darkness, whichever was exactly right for us.  And then to become aware of the child, held in our hearts.  And to allow the mother within us to arise and hold the divine child within.  Holding and being held.

When it felt complete, it was time to bless and share the milk.  I had a small jug of milk ready on the altar, and three tiny glasses on a shelf in the corner – so I went and got them and placed them in the big brown earthenware bowl which usually sits by the altar of Ishtar Embodied (south).  The three of us stood, and held the jug between us. Visualising a beautiful, beautiful radiant star shining above our heads, we lifted our jug to catch some of the starlight – we were all very open and connected and so I felt this happen energetically almost instantly.  Then I poured the milk into the glasses and we each had one to drink.  I drank mine down in one big thirst gulp, but the others sipped theirs more slowly.

Almost complete, but not quite.  We moved the chairs back out of the way, and stood in the centre of the space very close together, hands joined.  Closing our eyes, we visualised the Earth, the whole beautiful round planet, floating at heart level in the space between us.  Then we again connected with the Star above us, and saw her beautiful radiance flowing down and bathing the earth. To this we added the love from our own hearts, and then the milky light spurting from our own breasts… It was an exquisite energy, and I didn’t really want to bring it to an end. Karuna suggested we hold the energy and sing a song, so she started “We all come from the Goddess” and we sang together for a few moments.

Then it was time for me to do the closing honours – thanking the four guardian spirits, and offering a final prayer of thanks at each of the altars, and then sealing the ceremony with the final outward spiral of the foundation practice.

So there it is.  Very simple, but so very entirely necessary. And such a good reminder to me that its okay to be small, and I don’t have to do it all on my own, because I am lifted up and carried by the Great Mother of us all.

 

1 2 3 4