Filiz and Hannah had a brief but lovely wedding in their stunning red gowns last night, then handed out apples to the crowd from a big brown basket. Here’s a great post-wedding photo by Linda Hanek.
On Friday night I will be priestessing at the 2011 Women Exposed show. Filiz asked me to officiate at a fake wedding of her and Hannah. She wanted me to say a few words, too, about the power of women.
There are a million prayers I can think of that would be suitable, not to mention original works I could draft. But when it came down to it, I went with a classic: The Charge of the Goddess.
(This is not to be confused with The Charge of the Light Brigade. That’s something else. ;-))
I took the version from my Book of Shadows. I wrote it nearly 20 years ago for my initiation. It’s an amalgamation of the classic Gardnerian Charge and excerpts from the Principia Discordia, a feminist speech, Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Age, and my own thoughts. I think there might be a bit of Buckland in there, too. I am using an edited version for Friday that is shorter and more universal in theme.
Filiz declared it “beautiful” so I shall do my best with it on Friday night. Here ’tis:
PREFACE (while ringing bell):
All within! All within! Sit now, children, in the lap of the Goddess, and hear her words which resonate through the ages.
THE CHARGE OF THE GODDESS:
I am the Goddess. I am called by many names throughout the ages. I wake and sleep, wake and sleep, yet always I return. I look upon you in your world of wars and greed, your “shoulds” and “musts.” You have built for yourselves psychic suits of armor; clad in them, your vision is restricted, your movements clumsy and painful, your skin bruised, and your spirit broiled in the Sun.
Yet within this madness you still call my name, and I, as always, come back from the Dreamtime and the twilight of your consciousness. I am the Goddess. I am alive—and I tell you that you are free. Dance, then, make music and make love–all in celebration of me. For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit, the joy throughout the Earth, and my law is Love unto all beings.
Forever in balance, I call to you as you call to me. I who am the beauty of the green Earth and the white Moon amongst the stars, the mystery of the waters, the desire of the hearts of all, call unto your soul: Arise and come to me, for I am the soul of Nature who gives life to the universe.
From me all things proceed, within my arms all things endure, and unto me all things return. Before my face, your innermost self shall be enfolded in the rapture of the Infinite.
Keep pure, then, your greatest ideal–strive ever towards it. Let naught stop you nor turn you aside, for mine is the secret door which opens upon the garden of youth, and mine is the cauldron of Cerridwen which holds the waters of rebirth.
Know that all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.
And you who seek to find me, know that your seeking and yearning shall avail you not, unless you know the mystery: If that which you seek you find not within you, you will never find it without you; for behold! I have been with you from the beginning and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.
I want to teach my goddessdaughter. I want to pass on some of what I know.
I would start with the 4 Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water. I would give her her first Book of Light and Shadows and ask her to draw her first sacred Circle. And onto that Circle we would place the Elements in order: Earth at the top, Air at 90 degrees, Fire at the root, and Water across from Air. And above and around that we would place the secret 5th Element: Spirit. That which binds us, one to the other, in the great Wheel of lifeanddeath.
We would investigate the Elements in a practical way, suitable to her age. A stone for Earth, breath for Air, a lit candle for Fire, and a mini-cauldron of Water. And our mantra: “Never leave a burning candle unattended.” 🙂
To keep her interested, I would teach her the Discordian tradition of The Sacred Chocolate: White for Air, semi-sweet for Fire, milk for Water, and dark for Earth. I suspect that will get her attention. 🙂
Over time I would teach her the layers of the sacred Circle. First the directions: North for Earth and then around the Circle. We would orient ourselves outside and learn how to find North no matter where we are.
Then the different Gods or guides that go with each marker. I would give her options from the world’s religions. I would explain the different characteristics of the Elements and ask her if she could think of her own guides. I would have her choose who should go where. I would let her know that those guides would likely change as she grows and changes.
Then the seasons: Winter in the North, then Spring, Summer, and Fall. We would draw pictures and tell stories about the different seasons and observe how Nature manifests herself in each.
Then the holy days of my tradition: Samhain in the North, then Imbolc, then Bealtainne, then Midsummer. We would learn these cross-quarter days and the solstices and equinoxes. I would teach her the difference between the two and how to observe the Sun and know the seasons. We would make wreaths of flowers and leaves, a Brighid’s cross, a May Day poppet.
I would teach her of the Moon and its journey through its thirteen cycles. I would teach her how to identify trees by their leaves and bark. We would listen for the song of the birds and follow their call.
Once she’s old enough, I would teach her the Tarot, beginning with the Major Arcana before learning the Minor. While the cheat sheets are helpful, I would teach her to trust her own intuitions and insights so that the cards serve her well.
When she is ten, I would begin taking her to different places of worship so she can be exposed to a variety of belief systems and forms of spiritual engagement. I would encourage her to follow her own heart, listening carefully to see if any one particular path beckoned.
I would teach her magic, beginning with the basics of visualization before moving on to simple charms and prayers. I would give her a book of Latvian dainas that she might know more of her people.
Above all, I would teach her ethics. “If it harm none, do what you will.” The Threefold Law. The deep commitment to justice and compassion that is a necessary aspect of any spiritual being.
Throughout our journey, I would listen to her. I would encourage her to speak from the heart and I would endeavor to hear the sub-text of what she’s saying. While providing a framework for the development of her spirit, I would encourage her to challenge me and herself to greater understanding, charity, compassion, and fairness.
While I might sometimes have her copy from my Book of Shadows, I would sometimes copy from hers to mine. She would teach me as I teach her.
This is my vision for her. It is a lesser version of how I wanted to teach my own daughters, had they manifested in this world. It is open to a multitude of spiritual paths while giving her a solid foundation. It would be creative. It would be fun.
It is not up to me to decide, of course. As her Goddessmother, I feel Called to nourish her spirit. Her parents may disagree with my choices or methods. It is for them to decide. A and J, what do you think?
I am going to be doing sumkinda priestessing at the upcoming Women Exposed show on the 29th.
As part of my prep, I’m researching prayers and such that might be useful. And I come back, as I always do, to my little book of Latvian dainas. When I worked at Feminist Teacher magazine in the ’90s, this book came in as part of a request for a review. I immediately snagged it and got permission to keep it. Dearest Goddess: Translations from Latvian Folk Poetry, written/translated by Eso Benjamin.
Because Latvia wasn’t Christianized until the 14th (15th?) century, many Pagan traditions survive. Dainas are little prayers–almost conversations–that Latvian women have with their Dearest Goddess. And yes, it’s primarily women who wrote and maintain these prayers. There are over a million on record.
Dearest Goddess is the Sun, shining on the Baltic sea. This is contrary to contemporary Pagan views of the Sun as masculine and the Moon as feminine. I like to see both as manifestations of the Goddess, giving us a more holistic view of what constitutes femininity (I’m not worried about the guys–they can figure out their own system ;-)). The Dearest Goddess is known as Laima in Latvia, though I’ve also seen references to Laima as the daughter of the Sun. Those Pagans, always fluid! What is certain is that Latvian women in traditional dress as referred to as daughters of the Sun.
The dainas are very short but deal with everyday concerns. I love how they are so intimate and picky and bossy and joyful. They reflect the full range of life without limit. They are eminently practical. Here is a selection (with major props to Eso for bringing this heritage to light in the Western world).
I have looked for her
here, there, everywhere,
but my Dearest Goddess
is playing games
She will not tell me
where I can find her.
She’s making me spin
in my chair.
You go first, Dearest Goddess.
I’ll follow in your footsteps.
Don’t let me step
into evil days.
I’m out of songs,
What shall I do?
Let me find an old bachelor.
Let me ride him
to find a new song.
Dance, Marsha, dance.
Take no worry.
Your Dearest Goddess guards you.
Your Dearest Goddess sits
in a silver boat
and wears a golden crown.
This mill is too much;
the wheel is too heavy.
it’s been a hard life.
I no longer wish
to keep walking in circles.
Some people are saying
that my Dearest Goddess
has died by drowning.
Well, I just saw her
walking over the waters
sowing handfuls of
gold and silver.
Give, Dearest Goddess,
what’s to be given.
what’s to be taken
with both hands,
Be my helpmate,
Let the roses I plant tonight
bloom into a rose garden by morning.
Though we are not sisters,
we call ourselves sisters.
It makes some people mad.
It makes the Dearest Goddess glad.
My throat is like a trumpet–
I can compete even with brass.
My voice is like gold
and flows even through hard rock.
My mother raised me
in a nightingale’s nest.
I grew up to sing
with a nightingale’s tongue,
to hear my songs
roll the echo from the mountain
down through the valley.
will not get me down.
As soon as I can get away,
I’ll sing and dance again.
But do you know
what will stop a song?
A slap in the face,
a fist in the back.
Else, I will sing
even through tears.
My mother died singing,
and so did my father.
So will I.
And after I die,
I will go on singing
with my sister
from the top of our graves.
When I sing I sing happily;
when I cry I shed a river of tears.
I learnt my song
from the Dearest Goddess;
I learnt my tears
from being an orphan.
What’s wrong with my man?
He’s out barking with the dogs.
I walk singing.
The Unwelcome Goddess
gave me a present of fancy shoes for a party.
If you’ll be my chaperone Dearest Goddess,
I’ll be happy to dance barefoot.
The Dearest Goddess
gave me a thousand songs
at the tip of every wheel spoke.
Whenever I’m sad,
all I need to do is turn the wheel,
and song flows.
The leaves of the linden do not quake,
her daughters do not hate.
all the world weeps
if we don’t speak peace.
We are three sisters
with six ripe teats.
we’ve come to complain:
Where are the boys?
The wolf bragged
and the bear bragged
that they are strong.
I left them behind.
On my journey
I need only your company.
You will never find me
among the chaff.
The Dearest Goddess leads me;
my Dearest Goddess
will lift me up
to the mountain top.
There are many, many more I can post but this should give you a flavor. Buy Benjamin’s book; it’s a treasure! Blessed Be, Dearest Goddess!
Regrettably, I was disappointed in the Pffefer show tonight. After all, I was promised Yiddish vaudeville! Instead I watched three musicians onstage staring at the ground. In other words, it was a concert instead of a show.
The musicians were technically very proficient. One on accordion and piano. One on bass (he also did percussion on his bass, which was very cool). One on violin. They had a guest artist play cello on two or three songs.
The pieces were good, with two Django Reinhardt tunes really sticking out for personality and verve. There were two tango dancers who danced three or four times. They also stared at the floor. One wonders what was so fascinating about the Buskirk-Chumley floorboards tonight.
The audience was a bit sparse but appreciative. For once in my life, I was seated near a group of woo-ers. I am a big woo-er. I also am a ululation-er. Even a Xena-war-cry-er. And I always get stuck by these silent sticks-in-the-mud. But tonight I was even out-wooed at points! It was amazing!
The audience gave them a standing ovation but I wasn’t moved. I felt bad for setting there, but I just didn’t feel swept away. I’d tried even closing my eyes so I wouldn’t be critiquing the stage show, but the music just didn’t reach me the way I expected it to.
One thing I noticed was how they went almost straight into an encore. I wondered how that would work in a Kaia show. But I really don’t like the concept—that feeling of an encore being automatic. It’s got to be earned, with the audience refusing to leave until they get more. Like the energy that was raging at the end of the Red Baraat show last Lotus. Always leave ’em wanting more.
Miles Davis used to perform with his back to the audience. That just pisses me off. It’s so rude. I was raised to be a performer, not an artist. I’m not into self-expression for its own sake; I think a performer’s job is to connect with and help transform the audience. That transformation can be as simple as inspiring them to clap along or tap their feet. It doesn’t need to be some huge spiritual awakening. And I take issue with musicians (and others) who ignore the audience or leave them out of the creative experience.
I’ve heard from a couple different performers that it’s bad form to close your eyes when singing because it cuts you off from the audience. I think there’s some merit to that. But I also think there are times when the process is very internal, and the audience can be moved by witnessing that.
I think Kaia is so popular with audiences because we put on a very good show. We are constantly connecting with our audiences and giving back. We look at each other on a regular basis and smile (these guys tonight made eye contact only 5 or 6 times in the course of a 55-minute concert). We present the audience with an active, engaging show. Our technical execution isn’t always up to snuff, as you can tell on our live recordings, but the energy created makes us all deaf to that. (Usually. Sometimes I cringe. :-))
The main reason why I was disappointed tonight is because I went in with inaccurate expectations. I wonder how we can communicate about Kaia shows so that people can be excited about what they’re going to get and then be blown away by something which exceeds their expectations.
My advice to musicians: Look up. That’s where the rest of us are. Let us in.