This year I am crazy excited.
I am beginning the Priestess of Avalon training course in Glastonbury this year, starting this October.
I’ve wanted to do this course for six years, fallen in and out of love with the idea a bit along the way, and finally I’m putting on my big girl panties and doing it. It’s a side effect of the turning-25 thing. Time to stop wasting time lady.
And yes, I am paying for it. With money. As nice as as the idea of doing everything inexpensively by my self is, I can’t do everything on my own. I’m not a super person! To get to where I want, I need outside support, structure and accountability. And there is nothing wrong with that.
I think it could only have happened now, as its only in the last couple of years that I’ve begun to properly honour the spiritually obsessed part of myself and come to terms with that. It took a while to get here (… Erm, 10 years *cough*), but I am now cool with the fact that witchy spirituality is and always will be very important to me.
Woohoo! Onward to living the dream!
Man do I love the summer solstice. It’s right around this time of year I realise how wonderful and green everything is and think, it can’t possibly have been this beautiful last year because I would have remembered, right?
Let’s get a heads up on the Solstice, shall we, lest we find ourselves unprepared at the last minute! I’m keeping it simple, as I want to suggest things that are really easy to fit into your life.
For some, the Solstice is a festival of Fire – for me, following the Wheel of BrigitAna, it’s a festival of water. It’s such a luscious time of year, like a ripe water melon – glistening, bright and tasty, om nom nom – and lusciousness makes me think of water, not burning, scorching fire. I live in England, so guess which one I get more of?
So I got water specific, and came up with some awesome ideas of how to honour the Goddesses of Water and celebrate the season of Water:
- Go swimming. Better yet, go swimming outside. Bring goggles too, and submerge yourself in the water, and have a look at what’s going on in the Otherworld of water.
- Go on a mini pilgrimage to a stream or a river. I don’t mean a miles-long, six week pilgrimage. I mean a half hour trip. Look up your nearest body of water on a map, a river, stream, local pond, fountain, whatever, and make your way there with honour and reverence. I feel it’s better to pick something you can walk to. Start your journey with a prayer, and use a meditative chant while walking – my favourite is “Maiden, Lover, Mother, Crone, Lady of Avalon, bring me home”. Go slow – watch the trees, smell the flowers, relish the rain. When you get to your destination, spend a while in meditation and prayer, and leave an offering to the Mother of Water.
- Cleanse your body with water – take a bath with sea salt and lavender, and imagine it cleansing and purifying your whole body, mind and soul, filling you with a white light. I also like to sing in the bath to honour and call in the goddess in a mermaidenly fashion. Only when no-one else is in the house though 😀
- You can extend the cleansing-with-water gig to cleansing-other-stuff-with-water – your altar, tools, make a special floorwash to clean your floors with.
- Do a watering the plants ritual. If you have a garden, or little house plants, make a ritual out of watering the plants – empower the water, spend a little amount of time really being with and experiencing each plant.
A heads up on whom I consider to be Goddesses of Litha/Summer Solstice/Water:
- The Faery Queen Mab
- The Irish Faery Queen Aine
- The Lady of the Lake
- Domnu, Lady of the Oceans
- Sulis, who is handily a lady of both water and sunshine
- Mermaids, and the Mermaid Goddesses – Jurate, Atargatis, Yemaya, Nyai Loro Kidul, Liban
- The Great Goddess – more than the other festivals, the Solstice always feels like a festival of the Goddess, rather than particular goddesses.
Next week, we’ll be getting Witchy with the season!
When I was younger, I desperately wanted to be in a coven.
I can go so far on self-motivation, but after a bit I am back to procrastinating and doing stuff that is easier and less challenging. I need structure or deadlines around things to commit to them properly. Otherwise I just flounder around.
So I looked for a coven. When I couldn’t find any in my area, I thought about the idea of creating my own. In this fantasy, I’d be the coven leader (of course) and we’d meet up on full moons and talk about the goddess a lot, and I’d be an awesome high priestess leading spells and rituals and we’d all wear jeans and t-shirts and be a sisterhood.
Back in reality, I researched it further. I read a couple of books on covens and discovered what I’d suspected – it’s a frick lot of work organising a coven, and I knew I wasn’t experienced enough to lead one anyway.
I moved and I eventually did find a coven in my area, but they practiced a form of wicca that I was not comfortable with – Brittish Traditional fused with drugs. No thanks.
So, I started looking for pagan chums instead – I tried to start a Pagan Society at university, but ended up meeting people I really didn’t get along with. I don’t really enjoy organising stuff, and after a while I stopped bothering. I attended a few pagan events too, but I kept meeting people I didn’t work with – either they were too alternative, or a walking wiccan parody, or gave off a creepy vibe, or had conversations like this:
Pagan1: Oh, I’ve been exploring the Ogham recently.
Pagan2: Really? I know all about the Ogham. Let me tell you about this esoteric experience I had…
(cue both participants straining to show off how much they know and prove they are more learned and mystical than the other).
So after a bit I gave up. Cue a few years break.
But I haven’t really given up.
I recently tried to meet goddess peeps at a Z Budapest workshop, but not only was it a really abysmally disappointing workshop, I felt really out of place – I was easily 20 years younger than almost everyone there, and most people I spoke to seemed to speak in Goddess Code: everything was either an expression of the goddess, or doing the goddess’ work, or a great way of connecting to goddess. I do not speak the code, and it really irritates me when people try to link everything I do to a direct experience of goddess.
I left this experience confused thinking “I’m so out of place. Maybe the Goddess isn’t for me and I should stop messing around with this witch malarky.” Seriously. It’s bit weird when the community of people you have met in real life around your spirituality over the last ten years are people you just don’t get on with. I thought maybe that meant it’s time to give up, that I wasn’t spiritual enough for spirituality.
Just to make sure, I decided to give solitary practice my all for a month and I liked it so much I kept with it.
And now I am working out where to find my own in-person community. I’m not that unique – I am sure there are other people out there just like me, with similar beliefs and practices, and I’ll find them some day. I’m sure it will happen when it’s supposed to happen. Maybe. If not, I’ll be the goddess-painting witch with a solitary obsession with mermaids forever.
I’ve been soulsearching – it’s how I spend the long dark nights.
Way back at Samhain, I did my almost-yearly releasing ritual, where I burn stuff with purpose. I asked the Crone Goddess which aspect of myself She wanted me to work on this season (as trying to sort out everything at once never works) and she told me I needed to work on obstacles stopping me from walking my priestess pathway. (I’m not clairvoyant or anything – my methods of hearing stuff from the divine either come as a second of instant intuition, or through working with the tarot and trusting my intuition to interpret it properly. I used the tarot option this time. I think it’s decidedly unmystical.)
I’m quite keen on the idea of doing one ritual, and then the issue being resolved. Wouldn’t that be awesome? But, no. It usually doesn’t work that way. Sigh!
A month after Samhain I noticed that a lot of my issues were still there with bells on. I was really un-motivated to get a-priestessing and a-witching, and I still felt afraid, scared of judgement from others and down on myself. So I pulled out my sexy new witchy-journal and did some work.
Turns out, my major issue is that I do not believe I deserve to be a priestess. Who am I to have a connection with Goddess? Who am I to even want that? What makes me so special?
Elle Hull, a Priestess of Avalon, wrote a fantastic post on the myth of the priestess on her blog, Avalon Blessings (the post is called Perceptions, written on 06/12/11). We think that a Priestess should be a whole set of things that we really are not (calm, organised, patient, loving, forgiving, peaceful, super-disciplined, uber-compassionate and all of this ALL THE TIME) and feel that it is a standard completely out of reach for us super regular, hyperactive, scattered human beings, and we get really disillusioned and down on ourselves about it.
So I am putting pressure on myself to conform to this real personality-type-specific description of what it’s like to be a spiritual person. They would enjoy gardening, long walks and quiet conversations, be calm and level headed and loving to everyone no-matter what, and move in some kind of permanent blissy serenity achieved through connection with Goddess. They would be up to welcome the sun every morning and spend lots of time in prayer in meditation. They would be a morning person.
Hoo mama, that is totally never going to be me.
If the colour of the priestess described above is soft lavender, I am a bright orange – I am energetic, must exercise regularly, excitable, can really travel up and down on the moodometer and my brain is often in a big stressed mess. I’m more like a puppy than a priestess.
And also, I am so not a morning person I don’t start seeing properly until an hour after I wake.
But, the thing is, my spiritual path isn’t really about living perpetually in light and mornings. It’s about embracing into the dark, exploring death, sex, jealousy and ecstacy, and celebrating every aspect of human existence. My deepest inspiration is the Mermaid archetype, who embraces, celebrates and owns all aspects of herself, dark and light, and treats them all as sacred and important. Goddess spirituality is not about subliminating the unsavoury aspects of humanness. She is about everything.
If i actually settle down and use my brain a bit, rather than sink into the god-is-only-for-special-people-who-pray-non-stop-and-have-no-money trap, my idea of being a priestess is totally not floating about floating on serenity clouds in god-land all the time. On an obvious note it’s about developing a strong connection with God, but it’s equally about getting to know yourself as well as you can and living the life your deepest divine-self wants you to, living your divine mission, with support and love from Her. This divine mission could be becoming a mother or a women’s circle facilitator, or a chef or stripper or a car mechanic. And it means decending into a lot of crap to re-claim the gorgeousness and strength hiding under your fear, your jealousy, your insecurity, to get you on that mission. And then diving into new piles of crap to reclaim the next nugget to propel you further on your Goddess Mission. Really, it’s full of piles of crap and fear-facing to get you growing, moving and experiencing, and Goddess is there by your side to help you through it so you can bring Her light into the world, in whatever form she needs you to. It’s full of spiritual work, not only in the world of prayer and devotion but mostly in living your life serving Her by being the best that you can be.
Who am I to become a Priestess? Well, I am to be a Priestess of the Goddess, living out her joy and creativity in the ways she has most mundanely given me. I’m not a monk, and I am not a nun – I am an adventurer, I am she-who-dares and I live fully in this existence and this life the Goddess has gifted me with – through bliss and rage, through love and fear, through hard work and joyful living. She has given me a reason and a purpose, and even if it’s not being a coven leader or a minister or a spiritual teacher or a Jesus, my purpose is no less sacred than those purposes, my being no less special than those beings.
The thing I forget is that I’m not trying to become a nun. I forget that I am all about Goddess instead.
If I don’t like doing something, and I have a choice about it, chances are, I just won’t do it.
I’m coming out of my I-must-do-it-this-boring-way-because-this-is-the-proper-way-to-progress phase in my dance practice (when I am not enthusing about mermaids I am a professional belly dancer) after seeing the light of Sense and Reason, and that light is entitled Making Something You Love Dull Is Not Smart.
Further to that, I’m expanding that into my spiritual life as well.
I’m pants at blank-mind meditation – I can’t get my mind to shut up, and after an allotted 10 mins, I realise I’ve spent the whole time thinking about Batman or what my bathroom will look like when I grow up or trying to remember where I put that tenner. And being pants at it means, surprise, I won’t do it.
So what are my options?
Number 1 – Guided Meditations. On mp3 format or in full brain-only guided glory. I do feel a bit like I am daydreaming for 20 minutes and counting that as my spiritual done-time, but so what? That’s not a bad deal.
Number 2 – Prayer and Listening. I’m a big fan of praying, getting into the goddess zone and then opening my mind to listen to what She has to say, even if my minds only open and wallowing in blissful Goddess-ness for a minute or so. Way more effective than a ten minute Batman-bathroom-tenner reverie.
Number 3 – Walking Meditation. To stay sane, I need to get outside every day – if I don’t remember that, well, the effects will be felt my friend. I love going for walks and just being – watching the sky, seeing the tiny flowers on the bushes (in December! Crazy!) and hearing the wind moving through the trees. If I get out of my brain for a minute (which I also forget to do sometimes) and into experiencing the world around me, wallowing in the awesomeness of Mother Nature is the best meditation technique ever.
As ever, the most effective way to get stuff done is to make it fun, and that totally applies to spirituality as well. In my brain spirituality is meant to be lived, and the best way to get something done is to enjoy the whole process.