This is the ritual I priestessed at Daun Fields’ wonderful and welcoming Sunrise Hive. It came out of my frustration with Pagans’ so frequently looking outside themselves for the sacred, and how many of us women still hate our bodies. Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon talked about the Church of All Worlds, where they greet each other with, “Thou art God” or “Thou art Goddess.” Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance was my third Pagan book and she talked about immanence at length. It’s an empowering practice and it unifies the self with all of Gaia.
Intros: Introduce yourself and your matron goddess, describing some of her main attributes.
Something that is “immanent” is “indwelling, inherent.” Something that is “transcendent” (which is the type of deity most of us were raised with) is “over, above, beyond grasp.”
Starhawk, in Dreaming the Dark, defines immanence as “the awareness of the world and everything in it as alive, dynamic, interdependent, interacting, and infused with moving energies: a living being, a weaving dance.”
The split between immanence and transcendence, and the split between body and mind, can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. Around 360 BCE Plato wrote Phaedo, a Socratic dialogue. In it we find such gems as:
- The soul of the philosopher greatly despises the body, and avoids it. It thinks best alone by itself by avoiding so far as it can, all association or contact with the body.
- So long as we have a body, and the soul is contaminated by such an evil, we shall never attain completely what we desire, that is, the truth.
- Purification consists in separating, so far as possible, the soul from the body
Clement, Origen, and other early Christian church fathers saw the body as evil because of its needs for food and sex. The body became linked to Eve and Adam’s Fall. St Paul and other early Church writers link women with the body and disgusting sin. Gnostics saw the flesh as evil, animated only by a divine spark within. In the Middle Ages we see body-hatred manifested through fasting, flagellation, hairshirts, and sleep deprivation. Perhaps one of the greatest breakthroughs Goddess women make is when they reach radical acceptance of their woman bodies.
Even as Pagans, we tend to see the sacred “out there” (trees, sea, fire) or “in here” (trance, meditation, spark). What about everything in between?
Our Goddess is not a transcendent mountain god like the Abrahamic god. Our Goddess is immanent. She is all-pervasive. She is you.
The Goddess is you. You are Goddess. Your flesh. Your bones. Your voice. Your eyes. Your coughing fits. Your hayfever. Your pee. All that is natural is the Goddess. All that is natural is holy. The Goddess isn’t in these things, she is these things.
***Break for questions ***
Invite the Quarters:
East: Breathe loudly in and out
South: Rub palms together fast
West: Slide your hands over your arms like water
Cast the Circle:
Visualize a sphere of white light springing up from us and encompassing this whole floor of the building, the space above, the Earth below.
Close your eyes and travel to your matron Goddess. [My technique is to lie down on a cloud and descend gently and slowly over the edge of a cliff, changing colors from yellow to orange to red to green to blue to violet so you end up on the ground surrounded by violet light.] See your surroundings, look at your Goddess’ clothing, coloring, her aspects, etc. Make it as clear as you can by engaging sight, sound, smell, hearing, taste, touch.
See how your matron Goddess’ attributes are your attributes, too.
Then see her come nearer, facing you. She changes shape until she is exactly the same size as you. She turns her back to you so she’s standing right in front of you. You step forward as she steps back. You are one.
Feel suffused with her energy. Feel how her qualities resonate with your qualities. Then see how you embody those qualities, how they are as much your attributes as hers. You are one.
All rise and stand in a circle, holding hands. Taking turns, state your name and one of your Goddess attributes. The rest of us then respond, “[Name,] give us [attribute].” (For instance, I say, “I am Cairril, and I bring courage.” Everyone responds, “Cairril, give us courage.”)
Go around the Circle. It’s okay to duplicate attributes. Smile at each other and feel the power of our immanent Goddess selves. When you’re done, squeeze the hand of the person next to you. When everyone is finished, bring your held hands to the center of the Circle. Start toning on a low note and as you raise the pitch higher, raise your arms up until you are at the top of your range and stretching up. Then take a break! (Remember, your pee is sacred. Those feet that take you to the drinking fountain are sacred.)
Come back to the Circle and pick up a small food item. Ground yourself by sending shoots into the Earth from your root chakra. Feel your body weight against the floor and feel the Earth supporting you. Feel the holy energy exchanged between your sacred self and the sacred Earth.
I am going to say a five senses prayer. With each sense invoked, utilize it with your food item. If it’s “sight,” really look at your food and revel in how it’s sacred, but also how your sight itself is sacred. It is all Goddess. Thou art Goddess. I am Goddess.
Five Senses Prayer:
I praise the Gods who infused in my head
Soul and reason both
And who imbued me with my senses
Air and earth, water and fire.
One is for seeing.
Two is for touching.
Three is for hearing.
Four is for smelling.
Five is for tasting.
Eat mindfully, taking in all your sensory input. Let the food ground you. Then you can relax!
Sharing circle: what was your experience like? What messages did you receive? How have your perceptions changed?
Housel! Journal, chit-chat. Open the Circle.
It is my hope that women in particular will find this ritual helpful in coming to radical acceptance of their bodies as sacred. But for all who participate or adapt this ritual, I hope it opens you up to how sacred and powerful you are. Thou art God. Thou art Goddess.