Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Christians call it Easter, I call it Easter. Ostara is a different holiday completely.

Or Easter isn't Ostara and Ostara isn't Easter.

Eostre, the reason for the Easter Season?  Oh, no, no, no...

This blog is the result of a dilemma I had about the Ostara/Easter connection.  While reading the book Solitary Wicca for Life I found out that there isn’t one.  I learned Ostara is a modern holiday that probably doesn’t have an ancient equivalent and that there is very little proof that a goddess Ostara was worshiped in the ancient world.   So I did a little research and found out it was true.  I found out the Ostara myth that I had believe for so many years was false, False, FALSE.  You know the one:  “Easter like Christmas is a Christianized Pagan Holiday, used by the Church to ease Pagans into converting to Christianity.  Easter was actually named after the Goddess Ostara, the ancient Germanic Goddess of Spring.  Her companion was a magical egg laying hare, and this is where the tradition of dying eggs and the lore of the Easter Bunny originated.”  Yup, not True, not the slightest.  And honestly I felt like I was lied to, and was a bit pissed off about it too.  But I'm glad I know now, so I won't open my mouth and say something stupid like, "Urg, Christians stole Ostara from us!  They think they are celebrating Easter, but they are really celebrating Ostara."  Because, uh, no they are not.  Easter is all theirs, anyways was.  Anyways I'm ranting now, let's continue on....

There’s some debate whither the ancient Anglo Saxons ever worshiped a goddess name Ostara or Eostre, but one thing I know for sure now after a little research is if they did worship an Ostara it wasn’t the Easter Goddess many Neopagans know and love (to throw in Christians’ face) today.  Okay, Atheists, Muslims and oddly enough, some Christians like to throw this myth around too.

This could easily be a topic that could take pages and pages to discuss.  But I’m no scholar, and I really want to keep this sort.  So this is what I discovered about the Christianize Pagan holiday that never was, Easter.  I’m also not going to include source info either, sorry.  Believe me if you will, but either way research this yourself before you come to an opinion.  This info can be found easily via google.

There’s something about Eostre.
So the earliest mention of Eostre was by a Christian Monk name Venerable Bede.  He mentioned that Easter was named after the month it fell, which was named after a festival celebrating Eostre.  He never mentions anything about Hares or colorful eggs.  This association came way way later from the Brothers Grimm.  Other than this there are no archeological finds that support the ancient worship of Eostre/Ostara, and she nor an equivalent are ever mentioned in the Norse Eddas.

Easter sounds pagan right?
Easter was less likely to be named after a goddess named Eostre and more likely named after the month it fell in,  Eosturmonath.  I also found out that the Anglo-Saxons were not in the habit of naming months after dieties, but after what was occurring in the natural world during that month.  Eostarum means dawn, so Eostrumonath is more like to be named so, not after a goddess, but because around April is when the first signs of Spring start appearing, it’s the dawn of the Summer so to speak.  During my research I also discovered that in the majority of the languages of the Christian world the word for Easter is a derivative of the word Pascha, the Greek word for the Jewish Passover or Pesach.  Only English and German are unique.  (Just to note Ostern is Easter in German).  Linguistically this links Easter to the Jewish Passover, and not a pagan Spring festival named after a Goddess named Ostara.

What about the Easter Bunny and Eggs?
I’m pretty sure dyed Eggs are pagan in origin, but I’m still undecided about the Easter Bunny.  We pagans have a habit of thinking only pagans can come up with weird symbolism.  But in reality this is a trait found in all humans, we like us our symbolism.  Christians are just as capable of creating weird symbolism as anyone else.  With that said, I did find a link between dyed eggs and pre-Christian Spring celebrations, but I didn’t find them up North, like most people would think.  I found them in the Middle Eastern Celebrations of Nowruk the Zoroastrian New Years celebration which occurs around the Spring Equinox and Sham el Nessim the ancient Egytian holiday (which is still celebrated today in a secular manner) which celebrates the Spring.  And nope, no ancient Goddess with an egg laying bunny totem to be found anywhere.

Info on the  Easter Hare, was fuzzier.  *seriously no pun intended*  I found that the Easter Hare didn’t pop up until the 1500’s.  *my subconscious must love puns today because this one wasn’t intended either * And that maybe the bunny was created by German Protestants to disassociate Easter eggs from the Catholic Lent.  Once upon a time eggs were forbidden by the Catholic Church to be consumed during lent, so people would decorate them until they could be eaten at Easter.  I also found that Rabbits and Hare have been symbols in Pagan cultures, but doesn’t necessarily mean they meant the same thing that they do to us modern Pagans.  For example in the Aztec culture and some Asian cultures rabbits or hares they were symbols of the moon, not of fertility.  I found no link for hare/rabbit symbolism being used in ancient European spring celebrations.  If you have a good source linking rabbit/hare symbolism to a pagan spring celebrations (that aren't associated with Ostara/Eostre) please share it with me.  Leave me a comment bellow.

My conclusion about Easter Eggs and Bunnies?  Egg, oh hell yeah they are pagan.  The Easter Bunny, maybe that one really is theirs?  Maybe? *shrugs*

My solution to my Ostara Dilemma, and how is my family going to do Ostara?
Okay.  Something about co-oping Easter traditions into my Ostara just sits wrong with me in a way that it doesn’t with Yule.  I don’t know why, but it does.  Maybe it’s because we know that Christmas came from Yule and Saturnalia.  We know it, everyone does and there is a lot of evidence for that one.  But there is no Ostara/Easter link.  Easter is not Ostara and Ostara is not Easter.  It never has, and never will be.  So doing Ostara Egg hunts, and gifting Ostara Baskets from the Ostara bunny to my daughter just seems wrong.  Even if both the Easter Egg and Bunny do turn out to be Pagan, these elements were combined and developed into the Easter celebration in a way that’s uniquely Christian (maybe one can argue Secular, but not pagan).  There never was a Pagan celebration that centered around the theme of resurrection which included egg dying, egg hunting and included a bunny giving Children gift baskets.  To have my Ostara celebration mirror Easter, to me turns Ostara into Easter for Pagans.  Why not just celebrate a secular Easter?  Why have your child do Easter days to weeks before their peers do?  I’m just not getting it.

(I know that last paragraph comes off as kinda harsh towards those who do combine Easter customs with Ostara, I don't mean it to, I'm sincerely not getting it.  I'm not judging, I'm just not agreeing.)

So I have decided and I have talked to my Husband about this and he seemed cool with it, that we’ll just celebrate a secular Easter on Easter Sunday.  You know with the Egg dying, Egg hunts and the Easter Bunny, sans the resurrection of Christ like the Atheist do, and we’ll do something unique for Ostara.  I think I’m going to take some inspiration from the Egyptian Holiday Sham el Nessim which literally translates to “Sniffing the Breeze” and well, go out and sniff the breeze.  Because when I was pre-partner and pre-child that’s pretty much summed up Ostara for me.  To me Ostara has always been more about going outside and experiencing the spring than it was about the Goddess Ostara, colorful Eggs or her magical bunny.

So this year instead of doing an Easter for Pagans, I think I would like to celebrate the Spring Equinox with a Picnic, by baking a cake for the Queen of Heaven , and maybe some light free meditation on the wonderful energies of Spring.  Yep, this sounds good to me.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Goddess Wheel of the Year. What do Goddessians Celebrate? Part Two: My Personal Wheel of the Year.

When I said that the Part two of this series would come soon, by soon apparently meant the same day.  When I first wrote this post my first thought "Was darn this is long, why is this so long? Am I really this wordy?"  And my second thought was "Why isn't this already in my Book of Shadows?"

When I became a Goddessian I found that the mainstream Wiccan Wheel of the Year was no longer applicable to my path.  In addition, I end up discovering that I had issues with the traditional Neopagan Myth of the Wheel of the Year.  Although many Pagans say that the Myth of the Wheel of Year is about the Dance of the God and Goddess, honoring both equally, it became clear to me that the Wiccan Wheel is very God Centric.  The Wiccan Wheel of the Year is about the God’s rebirth, his maturity, his peak of power, his decline in power and eventually his death.  The only exception is Imbolc, which is often centered on the recovery of the Goddess after the birth of the God and sometimes on the Goddess Bridget. Most of the Sabbats are heavily centered on the God, with the Goddess mostly serving a supporting role for his progress through the year. 

When I became Goddess Centric I looked into many different takes on the Goddess Year.  I even created my own myth based on the cycle of the Dark Goddess and the Light Goddess, but that ended up being contrite and still didn’t quite fit well with me. After a few years of practice and trying out different myths, I noticed I really didn’t need a myth to accompany the Wheel of the Year.  I was happy enough celebrating the cycles of the Year, and the themes of the Sabbats alone. 

I view the Wheel of the Year as the cycle the Earth goes through as it revolves around the Sun. I have found in my years of practices that there are certain themes that pop up at certain times of the year.  Sometimes they respond to what’s happening seasonally in the part of the world I’m in, and sometimes they simply complement the time of the year the Sabbat falls in.  These are the themes I have come to embraced over the years. Some are very similar to what most Neopagans celebrate and some are somewhat unique to me and my group of friends I develop them with.  I offer you my take on the Wheel of the Year not a a set of dogma, but as suggestion for your practice.  As will all things pagan, take what you like and leave the rest.

I wouldn’t say the Wheel of the Year I follow is necessarily a Goddessian Wheel, but more a myth-less year that could be used by anyone of any Pagan Path.  For the most part the gender of the Deity isn’t important, my only exception is Imbolc.  From my experience I have found that this version of the Wheel works very well when I’m celebrating Sabbats with my friends and family, most who follow a path where both God and Goddess are honored.  My take on the Wheel doesn’t force the God/Goddess binary on me, and at the same time doesn’t push a Goddess Centric model on those who find worship of the God meaningful.  In practice, I’ll sometimes center a ritual on a myth of a Goddess that fits with the theme of the Sabbat I’m celebrating.  Other times I only evoke the Spirit of Gaia or the Universe if I’m feeling pantheistic.  There will even be a God along with a Goddess invoked other times, the major different here being that there’s a theme being focused on other than simply what the God and Goddess are doing this time of year.

I know it is common for many Pagans to observe Samhain as the end and beginning of the year, but personally I view Yule as the beginning and end of the Wheel of the Year.  For me it just makes more sense. In western society we observe New Years on January 1, so the mainstream cultural conciseness centered on endings and beginnings already exists.  As December nears its end people of all faiths and of no faith are reviewing the pass year, making personal inventories of the things they would like to continue and bring with them into the new year, and which things they would like to leave behind in the old year.  On a mass scale this energy exists in the December, where it doesn’t in October.  To me embracing Samhain as the New Year requires me to mentally fight with my culture, and my western mind which tells me New Years is January.  And this personally just doesn’t work with me.

To me Yule is the rebirth of the Sun.  It’s a time to banish the harmful and useless so that it doesn’t follow us into the next year.  At the same time Yule is a time to cast spells, say prayers, and perform rituals to attract and aide in growth, completion, and bounty in the coming year.  Yule is the time to reevaluate our life plans and goals.  Another major theme of Yule for me is to remember that the Earth is at peak of Her darkness.  And while we are at the peak of coldness, darkness, and infertility, the peak also promises that this is not a permanent state, but that warmth, light and productivity will once again return to the Earth.

Most of the themes in my personal wheel of the year are genderless, but Imbolc is my one exception.  To me Imbolc, is the Celebration of the Solar Maiden.  Many honor Bridget on this day, but I have a better connection to Bast, so I honor Her on this day.  One could also honor any Hearth, Domestic, or Fire Goddess on this day.

In addition to honoring the Sun Maiden, Imbolc is the time for Spring cleaning.  While at Yule we acknowledge and attempt to cleanse ourselves of the emotional and spiritual clutter that hold us back, on Imbolc we cleanse our personal space.  This is the time for reorganizing our personal space, for cleaning the corners, cracks, and other spaces of our house that normally get over looked, and to get rid of personal belongings that are no longer of use to us.  This is also the time to ritually cleanse our house.

To me Imbolc is a holiday to be surrounded by family.  If you have a family of your own spend time with them with a special meal.  If you are separated from your biological family for whatever reason then take the time to hang out with your closest friends on this day. 

To me Imbolc is the holiday that honors everything familiar (meaning family based) and everything domestic.  In addition to this theme, Imbolc also reminds us even though the surface of the earth appears baron and dead, the Earth is quickening.   The days are lengthening, the soil is warming and seeds are starting to sprout and are making their way to the surface.  Imbolc is the time to strengthen our base, reconnect or build stronger ties with friends and family, and to get our houses in order so that we can have a productive year.

To me Ostara’s meaning is quite simple.  It’s the first day of spring.  Ostara marks the beginning of the dominance of the Sun, Warmth and Light on earth.  In nature we are starting to see the first signs of life’s return.  The Trees are starting to bud, and sprouts are appearing on the earth’s surface.  I like to keep things simple on Ostara, so that I can be aware of the Earth’s natural energies.  In my opinion there us enough going on there to keep me spiritually satisfied.  Focusing on major themes, or myths take away from this.  From the way I see things, the summer seems like a continuation of spring. By the time the first day summer comes the weather is already quite warm, and the Earth’s fertility has already come back in full swing.  And winter is just the continuation of autumn.  By the time the first day of winter arrives it has already been cold for quite awhile, the first snow storms might have already been experience, and the Western World’s has been engulfed by the holiday season.  But on the Equinoxes there seems like a major shift of energies happens.  The Spring Equinox marks the end of the cold infertile season, and the Autumn marks the end of warmth and fertility.  If you haven’t felt this shift before, just take a moment to be still when the year nears these times and you will feel it.

I don’t like to plan big formal rituals or heavily focus on myths on the Spring Equinox.  My favorite thing to do is to take a walk outside and gather the early spring flowers and blossoms.  I then take the flower I’ve collected and to put them into a bowl full of water and meditate outside.  If I can’t be outside for any reason, then I open all the windows in the house and let the spring breeze fill my space.  I do a simple free meditation.  I just focus on the sounds of spring, the scent of new plant life, and feel the cool spring air touching my skin.

To me Beltane is about Sex and Fertility.  This can either be about the physical fertility of life returning to the Earth, or be about creating symbolic fertility in the endeavors in our personal lives, such as in our careers, passions, or even school.  If you have a partner this is the time to join with them in an embrace of sacred sexuality.  If you do not have a partner, or even if you do Beltane is a good time to reflect on the parts of your life which are stagnate and either get rid of them, or focus on how to make these parts more productive.  Feel stuck in your job?  Then maybe think about continuing your education, expanding your expertise with more training or consider seeking out new employment.  Your social life feels blah?  Then maybe take the time to seek out old friendship you have neglected due to your busy life, or seek out new friendships.  Take advantage of the fertility of the season to bless new or old endeavors so that they will be fruitful, satisfactory and productive.

To me Beltane is about Sex and Fertility, and Litha is about Love and Magic.  Love in all its forms, sexual love, romantic love, familiar love, love of friends, love of community, spiritual love, love of self, etc.  I think this association for me comes from the Shakespearian play A Midnight Summer’s Dream.  To me Litha is the perfect time for Love Magick.  If you don’t have a lover and would like one, do a spell to attract one.  If you feeling a lack of self esteem do a love spell to grow your self-love.  I have even hosted a group ritual once where we sent out love to our local community.

Litha is also a time to remember the power of the Sun on Earth is at its peak, and will soon be descending.

It's ironic that we Americans often try to deport
the very people who harvest our food.

Lughnasadh is known as the first of the Harvest holidays.  Which since picking up gardening I have found funny because by this point I have been harvesting for most of the summer, and if I started early enough, I was probably also harvesting in the spring.  With that said, to me Lughnasadh is a time to reflect on sacrifice.  Even though Mabon is known in the Neopagan world as the “Witch’s Thanksgiving,“ to me Lughnasadh is my “Witch’s Thanksgiving.”  To me Lughnasadh is the day to remember that in order for life to live it must consume life and for general contemplation on the circle of life. Plants absorb nutrients from the decayed matter of once living beings, herbivores consume plants, carnivores consume herbivores and all living things will return to the earth to feed the flora once again.  In order for us to continue living on this Earth another being must sacrifice its life. Even if one is a vegetarian the death of plants is still required.  To me Lughnasadh is about being thankful to all the plants and animals that sacrifice their lives to become our food, as well as giving thanks to the Earth for providing food, and to the people (migrant workers, and others who work in the food industry for little pay and little to no recognition) that help bring our food to our table.

Like on Spring Equinox, I like to keep things simple on Mabon.  In the high desert of New Mexico where I currently live it seems like the weather changes drastically after the Autumn Equinox.  I remember one year the day before the Equinox was a bright warm sunny summer day, and the next day, sweater weather.  It seems to happen that quickly here.  To me Mabon is about embracing all that is Fall.  The harvest, the falling leaves, the crisp autumn air.   With the coming of Mabon also comes the reminder that the dominance of the Sun on Earth is over.  The days will continue to grow shorter, and the weather grows cooler.  This is the time to take inventory of what has been accomplished this year, and to remember to tie up any loose ends before the year is over.  My ritual for Mabon is similar to my Ostara ritual, a simple meditation either outside or inside with windows open, just sensing the energies, feelings, and scents of fall.  Sometimes if I’m up to it I’ll inventory my accomplishments of the year while in ritual.

While other Neopagans observe the passing of the God, and while other Goddessians honor  the Goddess in her Crone aspect, I take this opportunity to take my focus off of the Divine and off of the cycles of the Earth and honor those people who have made my path into this world posible, and those who have enriched my world, but are no longer in it.  To me and many others, Samhain is the day to honor deceased ancestors and the beloved dead.  I don’t tend to focus on any myths, or Goddesses on this day, but choose to honor my family’s beloved dead this day.  I remove my religious symbols from my family alter and leave offerings of alcohol, tobacco, water, bread, flowers and candles in the memory of my dead.  I like to write down their names and recite them in ritual.  I usually ask for that the Deities that they honored when they were alive watch them and protect them wherever they may be, and let them know that I haven’t forgotten them.  I don’t usually evoke the dead as many do on this day.  I personally have mix feelings about this.  I know I have beloved dead that wouldn’t have condone this practice while they were living, so I don’t do it out of respect for their religious beliefs.  Plus I hold the belief in reincarnation.  So it’s plausible that some of my dead have already moved on into the next life, so what’s the point in trying to contact them?  To me Samhain is more about honoring and remember the dead than it is about taking advantage of the thinning of the veil.

The Goddess Wheel of the Year. What do Goddessians Celebrate? Part one: the Dianic Wiccan Wheel of the Year.

Most Neopagan are more than familiar with the Traditional Neopagan/Wiccan Wheel of the Year.  In Eclectic Wicca the Myth of the Wheel follows the dance of the God and Goddess.  The God is born of the Goddess on Yule.  The God matures from a newborn to a young man during Imbolc and Ostara.  The God and Goddess fall in love, marry and join sexually for the first time on Beltane.  On Litha the Goddess discovers She is Pregnant with the Child of Promise, while the God reaches His peak of power.  During Lughnasadh and Mabon the God continues to age and His power continues to decreases.  On Samhain the God dies, but will be reborn to the Goddess on Yule as the Child of Promise and the cycle continues again.

When a pagan realize that they are Goddess centric they may also realize the mainstream Neopagan Myth of the Wheel of the Year is no longer relevant to them.  If the Goddess Centric Pagan decides to keep the Wheel as a part of their practice, which many of us do, then the question arises "what are they celebrating when they celebrate the Sabbats?"   I know personally this was one question of mine when I first embraced a Goddess centric path.  In this two part series of posts I will offer basic information on the Dianic Wheel of the year as well as my own take on the Sabbats, in order to give those new to the Goddess path some ideas to incorporate into their personal practice.

The Dianic Goddess Wheel according to Ruth Barrett

In Ruth Barrett’s book Women’s Rites, Women’s Mysteries she provides information on the Dianic Wiccan Wheel of the Year.  In Dianic Wicca instead of the heterosexual dance of the God and Goddess their wheel is centered on the Goddess’s transition from Maiden to Mother to Crone back to the Maiden again. Bellow I will give a quick summery of the meanings and themes of each Sabbat in the Dianic Tradition.  If this version of the Sabbats appeals to you and you would like more info, I would suggest you pick up Barrett’s book.  I have first stated the title of each individual Sabbat as known in the Dianic Tradition and then added it’s more common name in (  ) when needed to help prevent confusion.

Winter Solstice
Main theme: Conception.  In the Dianic tradition the Goddess does not give birth on the Winter Solstice.  As this is not a common occurrence in the Natural world, and offspring birthed at this time would be unlikely to survive.  Instead they view the Winter Solstice as the time that the Goddess in her Crone stage passes away and conceive Herself as the Child of Light.  To the Dianics Solstice does not mark the rebirth of the Sun, but the conception of the Maiden Goddess whose birth will come at a later time.

Brigid (Imbolc)
Main theme: Quickening.  In the Dianic tradition Brigid celebrates the Crones transformation and rebirth as the Maiden.  In the tradition this is also the time formal initiations into Dianic Wicca are done.

Spring Equinox
Main theme: Emergence.  In the Dianic Tradition the Spring Equinox marks the Maiden’s return to the world.

May Eve (Beltane)
Main theme: Menstruation. While most Wiccan and Neopagan traditions celebrate the marriage, and the sexual joining of the God and Goddess on Beltane, the Dianic celebrate the Maiden Goddess’s first bloods on this day.

Summer Solstice
Main theme: Union.  In the Dianic tradition Summer Solstice is the celebration of fertility, the ability to create and the Mother aspect of the Goddess.

First Harvest (Lughnasadh)
Main theme: Ripening.  In the Dianic tradition First Harvest is the celebration of the abundance of the Goddess, as well as the obligation of Sacrifice to the Goddess in Her reaper aspect.

Autumn Equinox
Main theme: Descent.  Dianic Wiccans observe the transition of the Goddess from Mother to Crone on the Autumn Equinox.  To the Dianics this is also a holiday of thanksgiving.

Hallowmas (Samhain)
Main theme: Deeping.  On Hallowmas, Dianics believe the Goddess in Her Crone aspect deepens into Herself and rests.  To the Dianics this is also the time a woman should shed all that is no longer useful and is harmful so that she can have a fresh start in the New Year.  Also according to Z Budapest’s, The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries Hallowmas is the time to honor and remember all the women who died during the Witch Trials.

Some variations to the Dianic Wheel. 

While Shekhinah Mountainwater did not call the path she taught Dianic Wicca, it is very similar to Dianic Wicca and her teachings are very influential to the Dianic community.  Mountainwater’s take on the Wheel of the Year is very similar to the Dianic, but has a few differences where I will share below.  I will only mention the Sabbats that have greatly differing themes than those in Dianic Wicca.  If you would like to learn more about Mountainwater’s views on the Wheel of the year, read her book Ariadne’s Thread: A Workbook of Goddess Magic.

Winter Solstice:  In Mountainwater’s Wheel the Maiden is spiritually reborn on the Winter Solstice.

Spring Equinox: The Spring Equinox marks the Maiden’s physical rebirth into the world.
Summer Solstice: In Mountainwater’s Wheel, the Summer Solstice is a celebration of Love, Sexuality and the Goddess's impregnation.   Mountainwater notes that this fertilization can be self-made, community made, or the result of the joining of two lovers.

This is the end of Part One, my personal Wheel of the Year is to come soon...

Monday, August 27, 2012

My thoughts of Goddessia*/Making Goddessian My Own

Goddessian is a term to describe a person who worships/honors only the feminine face of the Divine or otherwise follows a spiritual path that is heavily Goddess centered, also known as Goddess Worshippers.  This term also serves as an attempt to unify those who practice Goddess Religion as well as to give a label to those who wish for an identity in addition to or instead of Pagan, Witch, or Wiccan.  For now, Goddessian is the term I choose to label my path. I am a Goddessian Neopagan, meaning my path is Neo-paganism, the flavor is Goddessian.

When I realized Dianic was not the term I wanted to use to identify myself, I started using the term “Goddess Worship” to describe my path instead.  But the term “Goddess Worship” always felt lacking to me, without a soul, overly scholarly, generic, and often felt like it needed additional explanation. “Yeah, I’m a Goddess Worshipper, and by Goddess Worship I mean a path that focuses mainly on the Goddess.  Yeah, Mainstream Wiccans worship the Goddess too, but what I mean by Goddess Worshipper is someone who either only worships the Goddess or if they do worship the God in addition to the Goddess, he’s seen has having a secondary role, as either the consort, or as a part of the Goddess not whole unto himself.” Too much explaining, to many words.  When I first found the word Goddessian, I thought it was a little silly.  I mean it was the word “Goddess” with the suffix “ian.”   Seriously what’s up with that, and do the creators of this word actually expect people to use it?  But after giving Goddessia some thought, I thought to myself, “okay I’ll bite, I’ll call myself a Goddessian.”  And really Goddessian explains my path perfectly.  Goddessian, I have a Goddess centered path.  Pretty straight forward and it’s a lot prettier than “Goddess Worshipper,” and since it’s a flowering new word it doesn’t have the same negative connotations that “Dianic” does.  It’s also doesn’t have the “So, wait, Dianics don’t necessarily worship Diana?” confusion that the word “Dianic” has either.  It’s clear Goddessians worship the Goddess. Since this is a new term which has been created to encompass many Goddess paths, it allows me some personal flexibility on what being a Goddessian means to me.  The following are my interpretations and reflections on my Goddessian path and may not mirror how other views their Goddessian paths.

To me, Goddessia is…
  • Goddessians are women, men and those who blur the gender lines.
  • Goddessians are Pagans, Christians, Jews and anyone of any faith or spirituality that places the feminine face of the divine at the center of her/his path.
  • Goddessians are monotheists, hard and soft polytheists, pantheists, panentheists, animists, agnostics, atheists, etc.  Philosophical beliefs on the nature of the Divine don’t matter as much as a Goddessians longing to connect to the sacred feminine within and without.
  • Goddessia can be practiced in the secludedness of the untouched wilderness; the comfort of one’s own living room, in a women’s circle meeting in halls of an open-minded church, or anywhere a Goddessian best connects to the Goddess.
  • Goddessia honors the power of and the need for Women only Space, but understands the Goddess also calls men to Her Worship and makes room for their unique connection to the Her.
  • Goddessia honors the sacred power of women’s wombs, moon blood and ability to give birth, but also recognizes that our power and connection to the Goddess go beyond our reproductive organs.  To not recognize this continues the sexist practice of reducing a woman’s value to her reproductive organs and her ability to reproduce.
  • Goddessia honors the female body as sacred, and women as the embodiment of the Goddess, but understands gender is fluid, and womanhood is large enough to include women born into intersex or biologically male bodies.
  • Goddessia embraces feminist values at its core but goes beyond being just a spiritualized political movement.
  • Goddessia represents a vast variation of Goddess traditions, religions and spiritualities, because of this Goddessians will apply differing and sometimes conflicting definitions on the terms Goddessian and Goddessia.  We are united instead by our desire to focus our worship/honor on the Feminine Divine and the desire to nurture our relationships with Her.
For More info on the Word Godessian, check out the Medusa Coils Blog.

*Goddessia is to Goddessian as Christianity is to Christian.

Goddessian Apologetics: A series in defense of the validity of Goddess Centric Paths (Part One)

I originally posted this as a thread in my Goddess Group on  

We, Goddess Worshipers are a small minority in a minority religion, but even still we are often the subject of misunderstanding, suspicion and scorn.  While I see many people talking about Dianic Wicca/Witchcraft and other forms of Goddess Worship, most of what I see is criticism from those not on Goddess Centric paths.  There are very few voices from the Goddess movement being heard.  Because of this I decided to create this series to address the most common criticism I’ve come across.  I should note, that I can only write about my knowledge, understanding and opinions on Goddess Worship. These are my opinions and I cannot speak for all on Goddess Centric paths.  Just like the rest of the pagan community, Goddess Worshipers hold a variety of beliefs and are likely to contradict each other at times.

Before I start let me note some things:
  • My use of the term “Goddess Worship” in this series will refer to any Goddess centric path.  This includes paths where only the Feminine face of the Divine is given focus, any paths in which the Goddess is viewed as the Supreme Being, or any paths where while male deities are also observed, the vast majority of focus is placed on the Feminine.  I realize that many pagans, if not most, worship or honor the Feminine Divine.  I also realize that sometimes “Goddess Worship” is used to refer any worship of the Feminine Divine, even paths that give equal attention to male deities.  But for sake of clarity I will be only using the term “Goddess Worship” in relation to Goddess centric paths.
  • I understand not all under the “Goddess Worship” umbrella hold the belief of the Great Goddess.  But it’s just not efficient to have to write something like “the Goddess/or a Goddess” every time I refer to belief in the Feminine Divine. 
  • I consider myself as a Pantheistic Eclectic Neo-pagan Goddessian.  I have researched Feminist Dianic Wicca in the past.  While there is much I like about the tradition, I take major issue with some of their teachings, and some of the views of its leadership.  I have included information about the tradition in order to educate others about it.  I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, and I do not consider myself Dianic.

1. Goddess Worship is only for Women
This is a common misconception.  The Goddess is open to all Her creatures.  You do not have to be female to have a connection to Her.  There are some in both Goddess Centric paths and more mainstream pagan paths that believe that women have a better connection to the Goddess than men, solely because we are female.  But I honestly believe that is bullshit.   We are drawn to what we are drawn to, and the Goddess calls who She wishes.  I doubt what a person has between their legs really matters much.  There are men out there who feel a greater connection with the Goddess and little to no connection to the God.  And that’s perfectly okay.  For these men a Goddess Centric tradition/path might be a better fit than a pagan path that’s based on the God/Goddess binary.

On the other hand there are Goddess Centric Traditions that are for women (and many times for ciswomen) only.  The most well known one is the Feminist Dianic Tradition.   The Feminist Dianic Tradition was born of the Feminist movement during the 1970’s.  Z Budapest, its founder, has stated that during that time many feminist were turning away from religion all together, because of the misogynistic teachings, and views held by many mainstream religions.  Z came across Wicca and created her own tradition which was centered on the Goddess, Women and honored women’s cycles.  Z’s tradition was not only created to make sacred the lives of women, but to serve as a safe space where women could come together and heal from the negative effects of oppression.  The Feminist Dianic Tradition was created, is still, and will probably always be women centric tradition.  For example, the tradition is heavily (pun intended) centered on the five Women’s Blood Mysteries, which are birth, menses, birthing, menopause, and death.  Because of examples like this the tradition just isn’t relevant to men.  I believe if more men knew more about the this tradition other than it’s Goddess centric, there wouldn’t be any men banging on the tradition’s door demanding to be let in.  Men, do you really want to be a part of a tradition centered on women’s menstrual cycles.  Really?

On the upside for men, Feminist Dianic Wicca doesn’t own the patient on Goddess Worship; in addition it isn’t even the only Dianic Wicca Tradition.  There are other forms of Dianic Wicca such as Mc Farland Dianic Tradition, and many more Goddess Centric paths that are open to everyone.

2. All Goddess Worshipers are separatist, man-hating, feminazi, lesbians!!!
I’ll be easiest for me to break up the above statement and address the segments separately.

All Goddess Worshipers are separatist … As I stated in the previous section not all Goddess centric traditions are exclusively open to women.  But in defense for women only traditions, just because a space excludes men doesn’t mean it is anti-man, it only means it’s a space that isn’t for men.

I love women only space and will always be a defender of it.  I’ve been a part of and have experience the power of women only space, both in secular and spiritual atmospheres.  As many of us know, men and women tend to act differently in the presence of the opposite sex.  This is the main idea behind gender exclusive schools.  When I was in college I took a “Language and Gender” class. In addition to other topics we discussed studies on the dynamics in mixed gendered groups.  These studies found that in conversation taking place in mix gendered groups, men were more likely the interrupt and dominate the conversations, and women were more likely to hold back in the conversation to let men speak.  This is indeed the best time to be a woman in history but it’s delusional to believe that all the effects of thousands of years of misogyny disappeared completely in the matter of a few decades.  This is just one example of the residue of patriarchy.

In my opinion this is the strongest argument for Women Only Space.  It allows women to have a space where we can free to speak without being interrupted, corrected, or have our experiences questioned by a man.  It also allows a space were women can discuss more sensitive topics most women wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing in the presence of men, such as experiences with sexual violence, reproduction issues, self image, etc.  And sometimes women just want a space where they’re surrounded by other women.  Our society has long understood for the need for men to have space free from the women in their daily lives.  It’s time we extend this understanding to Women Only Space, instead of viewing it with suspicion and as a threat.

man-hating, feminazi…  First I must say that these words are slurs, which are used to describe women involved in Feminist movements.  They mostly serve to create fear and the discount those who continue to work against sexism and other forms of oppression.  With that said, I realize that there are women who claim the Feminist banner who are in reality Female supremacist.  Most Feminists are about creating true equality between the sexes.  It’s not about elevating women over men, or lording power over men.

Unfortunately there are Goddess centric individuals and groups that are about Female supremacy.  While I have luckily never come across one, I have heard about them on both and elsewhere online.  As I stated earlier there are many paths under the Goddess Worship umbrella as well as the Dianic umbrella.  Just because some Goddess centric groups are full of belligerent misanderists doesn’t mean all Goddess centric groups and individuals are of the same nature.  Just like the existence of neo nazi Nordic Pagan groups, does not mean that all Norse Pagans are white supremacist.  For many of us our Goddess Worship is centered on connecting to the Goddess and our Goddess nature in ourselves, not the anger and hatred of the male gender.

lesbians!!!  I find it kinda funny in this common complaint of Goddess Worship and Women Only Space, that people feel the need to include the word “Lesbian” in with slurs like “feminazis” and “man-hating.” Like being a lesbian is a negative thing.  In my opinion it’s homophobic, as if Lesbians only exist as a part of some plot for male oppression.  With that said, while many leaders in Goddess Centric traditions are lesbians, and many lesbians may feel attracted to Goddess centric paths, not all Goddess Worshipers are lesbian.  In the same way not all Lesbians are interested in Goddess Worship.  The vast majority of Goddess traditions, including Feminist Dianic Wicca are open to women of all sexual orientations.

*** End of Part One. Way more to come. ***

How I came to Goddess Worship

I came to Paganism during the "Witch Fad" of the nineties.  I like many Neo-pagans was raised in a Christian family.  In my freshmen year of high school a few of my friends came across a few books on Wicca and decided they were witches.  This was how I was introduced to the world of Paganism.  At the time I was very much a Christian and was for the most part satisfied with the religion of my family.  But curiosity got the better of me and I borrowed one of my friend's spell books.  I remember curling up in my bead bag chair flipping through the pages of this cheesy spell book with very basic information on Wicca, when my heart spoke, "this is the religion for me."  I was shocked.  I couldn't be a Wiccan.  What would my family think?  How could I betray the God I worship at the time and follow Wicca instead?

At the time I remained Christian, but the interest in Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism never left me.  Over the next few years I started feeling more dissatisfied with Christianity. During the times of the most intense spiritual upheaval in my faith,  I gave in to my interest in Wicca and would start researching it again.  Out of pure curiosity, one day I typed the words "Christian Witch" into a search engine to see if any such thing existed, and to my surprised I found many websites and groups dedicated to Christian Wicca and Christo-paganism.  This fascinated me, so I continued my research on the topic in my families computer room, stopping every now and then to look over my shoulder and to delete my browsing history so my family wouldn't figure out what I was up to.

Even then, my guilt would flair up occasionally.  I would then halt my research and I would return to the "straight and narrow road" of South Baptist Christianity.  During my second year of college I moved out of my family home and moved a state away.  At this time I still identified as a Christian.  I started looking for a Church to join but couldn't find one that quite fit.  At the same time, still feeling discontent in Christianity I started reading the New Testament in hopes to build a deeper understanding and relationship with Jesus.  This only brought more doubts and more dissatisfaction.  At this time I decided to stop fighting my interest in Paganism, gave in to it and became a Christo-pagan.

I honor and respect Christo-pagans, and believe they have the right to practice their path as they see fit, but for me Christo-paganism was a transitional phase.  I was only a Christo-pagan for about a year, but during this year I learned a lot about not only Wicca and Witchcraft, but also about earlier Christianity, Gnostism and the heretical idea of Christian Goddesses such as the Mother Mary and Mary Madelene.  During this time I also got over my original hesitations about working with the Feminine Face of the Divine.  After my year in Christo-paganism I came to the realization that Jesus just didn't do it for me.  The idea of Jesus never really related to me well, and that's what caused my dissatisfaction with Christianity.  I gave up Jesus completely and became a generic Eclectic Neo-pagan.

During this next phase of my Neo-paganism I started getting more involved with my local pagan community.  I started researching various Magical and Pagan paths, from generic Wicca 101 stuff, to Voodoo, to Strega, to Celtic Paganism.  At the time I strive to make both the God and the Goddess part of my practice because that's what I was exposed to through the pagan community, and that's what I was told to do by the authors of Pagan books.  It was what good Pagans do.  Everyone knows a good Pagan not only worships the Goddess, but the God as well, equally.  Right?  But it always felt forced.  No matter how I tried it never seemed like the God in any of His forms wanted anything to do with me.  Whenever I evoked the God or prayed to the God, all  I ever got was a big Divine, "BLAH."

I eventually got the opportunity to attend a class at my local university on the Dark Goddess.  Taking this class changed my Paganism and how I viewed the Goddess forever.  I fell in love with the idea of the Dark Goddess. This class gave me the realization that the Goddess was whole and complete unto Herself.  That She was the embodiment of Balance Itself.  She did not need the God to balance Her out.  The class gave me the tools to move away from the God/Goddess binary.  But even after this realization I kept the God in my practice.  Maybe it was out of habit, or out of a sense of obligation.  I don't know.

I don't know how many years I have been a Goddess Worshiper, but I remember the exact moment I became one.  I was sitting in my apartment one day wondering why the God never seem to respond to my worship.  The thought came to me that maybe He's making room for me to get to know the Goddess.  I had spent 19 years of my life worshiping the male face of God. Maybe He was stepping aside so that my relationship with the Feminine Face could develop, and maybe He would come back at some later point in my life.  At that moment I decided to give up the God and to give my worship only to the Goddess.  This happened in my early twenties, I am now one month away from turning 30, and the God hasn't come back yet.  And to be honest I don't miss my relationship with the God.  How could I miss something that I never really had in the first place?

For right now I am a Goddessian.  My path is forever changing and involving.  I accept that I might not always remain a Goddess Worshiper.  But what I do know is that spirituality I felt as though a huge weight was lifted the moment I gave up the God.  I no longer have to force myself into something that just doesn't fit, and it's that a major part of being a Pagan.  Right?  The freedom to develop a path that truly works for us as individuals.