Seasonal Salon

Wisdom from the Well: Our Priestesses Speak, Part 3

"I am a woman who honors the Goddess and practices woman-focused spirituality." What does this statement mean to you?

This is the first sentence of RCG-I's Ordination Affirmation, which is the promise spoken when a woman is ordained as a priestess of the Congregation. Here are reflections on this statement from three priestesses, sharing wisdom from the well.

Sally Jeaux
How do I priestess? (Let me count the ways.)
I have thought about this for a month or so now and various times over the years. What does it mean to be a priestess and how do I know that I am one?
I find myself being given many situations to priestess every day.

I priestess when I check to be sure a womyn who is stranded on the side of the road has what she needs, when I listen to my heart to give money to the homeless, when the most interesting of folk bear their hearts to me in public and just need someone to call them by their name and listen to how they make sense of this life we all share. I priestess in the many circles in which I have the blessing of being involved, both in ritual, and also as a healing person available to channel Her wisdom or energy when needed. I priestess when I give workshops at Woman’s gatherings, about issues important to us and our growth. When I am part of the planning circle for our annual Festival of the Goddess, I am priestessing. I priestess when I pray at my healing altar for friends who ask for it. I priestess when making sacred art.

When I plant my garden, I draw Her down to be part of it. When I sit on my back porch late at night, I talk to Her and meditate—priestessing for myself. When I write about personal ritual for Seasonal Salon—I’m priestessing.

When I remember to be grateful out loud, when I listen closely and sit in presence with someone, not trying to fix the situation, I am priestessing. When I make love with my partner, I am priestessing because all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals. When my actions are in line with my values and beliefs, I am priestessing. I priestess when I listen to my instincts and trust my intuition.

When I walk with a child through the adoption journey, I am priestessing. I priestess when I advocate for children’s well being. I priestess when I do my own healing and have the courage to face old patterns that no longer serve me. I priestess when I march with women. When I rise up against sexism, racism, ageism and all the rest of oppressive domains, I am priestessing. I priestess the healing of our Mother with actions, prayer and sacrifices.

I guess, because I am a priestess, everything I do is priestessing.

Susan Grossman
Before I came to RCG-I I was involved in a wonderful temple in Chicago that focused on magick and the elements. We didn't invoke gods or goddesses in our public rituals, which was fine with me. Full moon rituals were for initiated members only, so some would invoke personal deities. For my part I had heard enough of god-talk in my earlier life. I was happy to focus on the energies of the natural world.

I had heard about RCG-I and wanted to experience women-only space. So I attended a Gathering. I found magick but to my surprise I also found the Goddess (and lots of goddesses) at the heart of the Congregation. The women here honored and taught about the Female Divine in all her forms. This included respect for women's experiences, raising up all that is sacred about their lives and showing reverence for Earth.

I realized that this community was where I wanted to be. What I have learned about individual goddesses fit perfectly with my feminist ideals and life --bringing back stories of goddesses and heroines-- and reinforced my belief that the Earth is the essence of the Female Divine.

I thought that, since I had spent the first half of my life hearing “god-this, god-that, god will, god won’t,” I was ready to spend the rest of it hearing Goddess spoken. The next day I signed up for the six-year WTI Cella program. Years later this program and the community of the Congregation continue to teach me. I can celebrate with women of a like mind who share the same herstories and dedication to the sacred. And with them I can work toward my goal of growing my kinder self every year. Goddess spirituality is at the heart of my own growth as well as my teaching and ritual work.

My cosmology continues to be refined the more I learn and experience at gatherings as well as WTI weekends and intensives. I see the earth nurturing and sheltering us, just as we must nurture and protect her as a Divine Mother.

I see Her more vividly with each passing year. I feel Her with as the breeze brushes past, in the warmth of the sun and the light of the moon, in rainstorms and snow and each step on solid ground holds me steadfast in Her embrace. And I see Her in the faces of the women of RCG-I. It all serves to stir my senses and I know She exists.

In a ritual for this year's Priestess Gathering, I closed with, "We lost Her once. We're not going to lose Her again!" That's why I do what I do, in Her service.

Maggi Joseph
When I first encountered the contemporary feminist pagan movement through the UU curriculum Cakes for the Queen of Heaven I was amazed by the power of the images of the feminine divine.

Working with many forms of the Goddess is central to my spiritual practice; I cannot now imagine a spiritual path for me that is not centered on honoring the Goddess. Learning about many Goddesses and varieties of practices and traditions always eventually brings me back to the Goddesses that I dedicated to at my ordination: Bridget, Gaia, and Hekate. They are each with me primarily for a segment of the year’s turning. I am their daughter and I feel my connection to them deep within my soul.

I also feel that the most satisfying spiritual practices for me are matri-focal because to me women are the life-bringers and life-sustainers. Patriarchy has resulted in a gross imbalance for many, many years. Now that my consciousness has been raised, I cannot find satisfaction in a group that is not explicitly dedicated to feminist and womanist approaches. Although my most important spiritual groups are women-only, I also from time to time attend gatherings that are all-genders, but they are also dedicated to undoing patriarchy. Of course, not even all-women groups are always completely successful in getting the patriarchy out of our own heads! All we can do is give it our best and gently call each other to account (rarely) when we slip up.

Sid Reger is an independent scholar, educator, and artist, whose passions are mythology, prehistoric art, and bringing goddess lore into women's lives. She is an ordained priestess of RCG-I and the president of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology. She lives in western PA where she and her temple dog are instructed daily by her two cats.

Category: Winter Solstice 2018