Priestess Path

Awakening the Priestess Within

Beloved priestesses,
Here is my forming list of 13 useful conversations/explorations for awakening the priestess within… Please have a read through and see if it resonates with you?  I would value your feedback/thoughts.. It may be turning into both a correspondence process (for those at a distance) and a hands-on course (for those who are close by)…
love
Ishara
14/5/2007
  1. making space in our lives for the Goddess – home altars as a practical expression of our evolving relationship with the divine, altar-centred practices
  2. sisterhood and self-blessing practices – sharing our stories; claiming our wholeness, saying yes to all of who we are: embracing and honouring our bodies, our life-experience, our emotions, our sensuality, our sexuality/womanhood, our minds, our imaginations, our passions, our creativity, our intuitive gifts; self-blessing/sister-blessing as the beginning of healing/wholeness (tapping: “even though Iam experiencing X , I still deeply and completely accept myself”,  self-forgiveness: “I forgive myself for ever believing there was something wrong with me “)
  3.       finding somewhere to stand – grounding ourselves in our bodies, in the earth, in relationship with the Land.labyrinths, walking meditations, sensual meditation, communing with trees, the tree of life meditation, acknowledging/making offerings to the spirits of place, belonging where we are, earth-friendly lifestyle adjustments as offerings
  4.       creating inner and outer spaciousness – purification practices, meditation & breath, clearing space, circles, boundaries, orienting in space, the foundation practice for embodying the juices of the Great Goddess, invoking protection
  5.       raising and grounding energy – energy awareness; use of dance/movement, breath, chant & vocalisation, visualisation to raise energy; elemental energies; erotic energy and polarity work; becoming a bridge between heaven and earth
  6.       changing consciousness – getting into and out of trance. simple trance inductions; getting into trance through breath, movement, visualisation;  entering other realms, grounding again afterwards
  7.       opening to guidance – the practice of prayer, divination, working with dreams, cup of dreams practice, open heart meditation, the practice of surrender and the devotional path of the priestess, discerning our path to practical service in the world – the experience of vocation
  8.       imaging / imagining  Goddess – exploring and expressing our unfolding relationship with the divine through the creative arts, weaving shared visions, midwifing the future – visionary process and practice
  9.       healing gifts – nature of healing, finding your healing medium, working with the wounded healer in us, energy exchange, personal ethics and personal boundaries
  10.   opening the voice – finding our authentic voice, use of divine names and mantras, toning/intoning, exploring harmony and dissonance, the experience of resonance, invoking the Goddess
  11.   standing in our power – claiming the authority of lived experience, challenging the internalised voices of the patriarchy, owning and honouring our gifts, the wildish self, responsible/responsive leadership, sharing power, empowering others, embodying the Goddess in ritual/ceremony and in daily life
  12.   the art of creating meaningful ritual – clarifying intention, crafting symbolic action, opening space, opening ourselves, raising and directing transformational energy, changing ourselves/changing the world
  13. in the presence of mystery – being with birth, being with death

Invoking Goddess

How is your Goddess altar?  Have you been finding time to tend it?  Have you noticed what pulls you toward or away from it?

Having made some space for the Goddess in your life, its time to think about how to call her in – we call this invocation.  Of course the Goddess is ever present, but through the practice of invocation, we can consciously invoke particular aspects or qualities of the Divine.  Sufis use wazifa practices.  Contemporary Goddess worshippers use any of the countless names by which her people have called her, names coming from a wide variety of cultures spanning thousands of years of history from all corners of the globe.  When we call upon the Goddess by a particular name, we awaken a specific set of resonances, often with a quite distinctive energy (or perfume or flavour).

If you haven’t gathered by now, I am a monotheist by upbringing and personal inclination.  I ascribe to the understanding that all the Goddesses are One, that the many different names we may choose to use are all pathways to Her.[1]  Another way of saying this might be to say that ultimately, the Goddess is that unknowable mystery ‘behind’ or ‘at the core of’ the reality we experience.

Yet contemporary Goddess religion is essentially an experiential path, and part of its special appeal to many is the sense of a growing personal relationship between ‘I’ (whoever she is?!) and the Goddess.   Calling on the Goddess by a name with which one resonates – whether it is “Ishtar” or “Isis”, or simply “Mother” or “Beloved” – is a way of accepting Her open-ended invitation into greater relationship.  The flavour of the relationship will be coloured by the names which one uses.

My purpose here is to share something of my subjective/intuitive understanding, the current fruit of my experience so far.  I’m not about trying to construct a tightly argued theology, and can tolerate a certain amount of paradox within my beliefs.  And so, having said that I am a monotheist, I am going to go on to state that for me personally, it is important to acknowledge that the gods are real, not merely abstract psychological concepts.  In calling on the Great Goddess, (or Ishtar, or Inanna, or indeed upon the wild god of the forests), I am acknowledging that I am human, and therefore limited, and I am placing myself in dynamic relation with a reality greater than my limited self.  For this reason I have difficulty with that form of ‘new age’ language which conflates the word ‘woman’ with the word ‘goddess’.

In my theology, to be human is to be the subject of an open-ended invitation to co-creative relationship with the divine.  When I use the word “Goddess”, when I invoke the divine by that name, I am naming, or calling upon, my sense of intimate personal relationship.  I use the noun ‘relationship’, but in no sense is this a static thing, so perhaps I should rather talk of ‘intimate relating’, because my strongest sense is of a dynamic process of evolving interconnection.

When invoking the Goddess in ritual, our job as priestesses is:

  • First, to consciously make a personal and energetic connection with the specific energies or qualities of the Goddess that we wish to invoke.
  • Secondly, to make ourselves available as a channel, or as some would say, a ‘step-down transformer’, for that energy or presence of the Goddess to move through and into the circle or space we are working in.

This process is aided by –

  • The strength of our personal relationship with, openness or availability to, the specific qualities or energies we are invoking.
  • The use of resonant language and evocative mental imagery or symbols which helps us to make that emotional or energetic connection.
  • The strength of our desire to feel and experience Her presence – our own yearning and that of others in the circle.
  • The practice of consciously expanding our own aura or energetic field to encompass the entire circle or audience, so that the energy that comes through us will touch everyone present.

When the Goddess is invoked strongly, others in the circle or sacred space will experience a shift in the energy and/or a sense of presence not previously felt.

Similarly, when a presence is effectively banished or farewelled from our sacred space, its departure will be collectively sensed.

To invoke or call the presence of the Goddess into a particular space, a physical icon or symbol (such as an altar or goddess figurine), or a person, the usual formula is this:-

Having cleansed and dedicated the space, symbol or person, first ground and centre yourself.

Then consciously expand your aura to encompass the circle/group/space you are working in

Then make the connection to the energy that you wish to invoke (in this instance the presence of the Goddess) – often done by holding a name or image in your mind, then going into and through that name or image to contact the distinctive, yet nameless and formless energy which informs it, and then drawing this energy into your own energy body.

The process described above can equally be used to invoke elemental energies (earth, air, fire and water), particular emotional energies, spirits or presences, such as the spirits of a particular place, one’s ancestors, spirit guides, ascended masters, etc. depending upon one’s personal belief system.

[1] This is a very common understanding among contemporary Goddess worshippers, but I acknowledge that some contemporary pagans have a more polytheistic understanding of the gods.  They relate to a pantheon of gods and goddesses, each having a separate existence.

Personal survey – Where I am at right now

I feel blessed to have been born female

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

I have trouble feeling connected to the Divine

Never                                                                                                  Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

My dreams & meditations are a source of insight or inspiration

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

My sexuality is a source of pleasure to me

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

I feel stuck or confused

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

I express my innate creativity in ways that are personally satisfying to me

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

I experience myself as being in a dynamic, two-way relationship with Goddess/Mystery

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

I have a hard time feeling at home in my own body

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

Divine or ‘inner’ guidance is the basis on which I live my life

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

Wanting/needing to feel ‘in control’ is an issue for me

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

I feel safe to share my evolving sense of my own spirituality with others

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10
I feel numb or frozen

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

 

I am at peace with myself and my life

Never                                                                                                   Continually

1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8          9          10

Download PDF version of Personal Survey

Making space for the Goddess – Creating & Tending a Home Altar

Like much of our work as priestesses, making an altar is a way of engaging the deep mind – the part of our psyche/soul which communicates with us through dreams and synchronicities.  Making an altar is a way of literally making a space in our lives for our unfolding relationship with the Goddess, of letting our whole beings know that we are serious about this work.

To create your Goddess altar, find a place in your home where you can leave things undisturbed. Preferably make it somewhere that you can conveniently spend some quiet moments tending your altar and communing with the Goddess each day.  If nowhere presents itself, perhaps you could find space on the wall to hang a small shrine or shelf.

Give the place a good clean and then place upon your altar some special things which will appeal to your senses and help attune your mind and body to the presence of the Goddess in your life.     Possibilities to consider include: coloured cloth, candles, incense, flowers, shells, stones and other found items from the natural world, small offerings of food or drink, pictures, written affirmations, anything that speaks to you.

Investigate and gather/create images and symbols to awaken the priestess within. Use your intuition, keep your eyes and mind open for new ideas, maybe do a spot of research into ancient goddess images.

Many people like to have an icon of the Goddess on their altar, but it is not essential. There are now commercially produced goddess icons available in local shops and through the internet, or you may prefer to create your own using clay or other natural materials.

The four elements – earth, air, fire and water – are very useful foundation stones for a great deal of earth-centred/Goddess/pagan spirituality.  You may like to have each of them represented on your altar.

Your altar space is an expression and a reflection of your unfolding relationship with the Goddess. It can be as simple or as lavish as you like, and is likely to change over time.

To increase the energy and effectiveness of your altar, you may wish to formally consecrate it.  To consecrate means to make sacred.  Ways to do this include: clearly affirming our intention aloud, ritually lighting candles and/or incense, making offerings of food or drink, sprinkling with blessed water, directing energy from our hands and hearts into the symbols on our altar, and most effectively and simply of all, by asking the Goddess to bless the altar and our intentions with Her beloved presence.

 

Resources:

Cycle 2 – Altars from Ariadne’s Thread by Shekinah Mountainwater pp42 to 63

The Twelve Wild Swans by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine pp63-65 (Guidance:Creating a home altar and Guidance: Working at the home altar)

 

© 2009 Catherine Ishara de Garis