New video: The Goddess in Witchcraft

The extreme winds we’ve had for the last few weeks have made it very difficult to film outdoors, especially here on the coast. So I made a new video this week, using footage filmed from last year. I hope you like it!

When Maiden, Mother, Crone isn’t right…

My latest blog for SageWoman…

After having spent a lovely weekend in Glastonbury with a dear friend, I noticed that there is a lot of focus on the triumvirate of Maiden, Mother and Crone. Walk into any shop and you will find this triple goddess littering shelves, books about these aspects and people talking about where they are in relation to Her.

This triple goddess, however, leaves me a bit cold. Childless by choice, I have no relationship with the Mother aspect of Her, and absolutely no desire for one.  Yet is seemed to be constantly thrown in front of me – at a certain age, we should be entering our Mother phase. My little inner anarchist said bollocks to that.

Firstly, I’ve always had difficulty with a triple goddess, reflected in the phases of the moon for, as everyone knows, there are four phases – waxing, full, waning and new or dark moon.  So, a triple goddess of the moon makes no sense for me personally, though it may work for others.

Secondly, there are many women out there who can identify with my choice of not bearing any children and for whom the phase of motherhood may seem out of place.  I understand that the term motherhood may have many different meanings – you can give birth to ideas, or nurture your own environment. However, to me the term mother has always been a literal one. It is partly why I don’t believe in an all-loving Mother Goddess.  I have a physical mother and no need for a metaphysical one.  My deities of nature do not have the usual aspects of motherhood instilled within them. They simply are what they are, whether that is wind and rain, fog or mist, love, anger and fear, time and tides, floods and drought.

So what is a person to do when bombarded by this triple goddess? It seems taken for granted that everyone identifies with such, especially women. This is not the case. Perhaps we need to find something else that works for us individually.

I considered over the weekend how to change the triumvirate of Maiden, Mother and Crone.  Some ideas that I have considered are Maiden, Priestess, Queen and Crone – and the aspect of Mother could easily fit into one of two categories there should the need arise.  This would also seem to fit in with the phases of the moon – Maiden as the growing, waxing moon, Priestess in the fullness of her power, Queen as we journey into the wisdom of sovereignty with our maturation, and Crone as we delve deep into the darkness and journey towards the winter of our lives.  This feels easier for me, without adding pressure of having to procreate to fit into one of her aspects.

I have heard of people replacing the Mother with Warrior, or Amazon, but this does not sit right with me.  As a Druid I am dedicated to peace, working to create peace in the world through empathy and compassion, using the Bardic arts that I am graced with, as well as the Ovatic gift of vision.

Perhaps I take this just a little too literally, a little too seriously.  As a woman who has made the decision not to have children however, I feel that it is sometimes necessary to redefine the boundaries of what we currently hold to be our personal truths in our ever-changing society.  I feel this is even more necessary in our spiritual worldviews. For me, religion should be an ever-evolving thing, growing with the person and with the society, holding a sacred relationship to our past while looking towards our ancestors of the future.

The Maiden

I have always loved The Maiden Goddess, in her many forms.  When I first started learning other mythologies from around the world as a child, it was the image of Artemis that struck me the most – a glorious, strong young woman with her bow, surrounded by animals under a waxing crescent moon.  Someone who knows what they want and yet keeps it to themselves, guarding their bodies and sense of self and opening only to those they choose to love – the Maiden’s love was not unconditional.  She ran through the forest with muddy feet and wild hair, in skins and with fetishes dangling in the breeze.  She still does.

As I near 40, the sensible part of me tells me that I should at least be looking into the Mother Goddesses, before I turn to face the Crone. The Maiden in me tells her to bog off.

It’s in the waxing time that I long to dance and sing, that the energy is rising, when my blood stirs with passion.  I love that crescent that hangs in the sky, a silver arc of glory and strength, bending but not breaking, supple and strong.  The full moon does, of course, sing to me as well, as does the waning and new moon – I honour all the tides and times as they flow through this life and through me, connecting me with everything.  Autumn is my favourite season – not a time of the Maiden, you might say – but the Maiden would say otherwise, for this is hunting season for us humans, where she and the Lord of the Wildwood watch over both predator and prey.

I suppose that being childless by choice has much to do with my perspective on the Maiden.  She is free, unburdened, yet still carrying great responsibility.  She is not naïve, she is not immature – for me she is strong-willed and determined.  She is not innocence and unknowing – she IS a goddess after all, remember.  She likes children but sees no need to have her own, for it does not fit in with her plans.

I don’t seek a Mother Goddess, perhaps because I have never felt the need for one.  My own physical mother provides me with that love that only a mother can.  I personally don’t believe in an all-loving Mother Goddess anyway – the Goddess as nature for me could never be so. Nature doesn’t give two hoots about humanity.

Even my Lady Nemetona, the goddess of sanctuary, is not a Mother-type figure.  She provides us with that space where we can be, where our soul truth can sing, however she is not motherly in the way that she provides it.  She allows for that space to be – like a priest, she facilitates the power within and without to allow that time for growth, or reflection, or whatever it is that you seek. It is up to you to use it correctly.  She watches over sacred sites, stone circles and deep lakes, mountaintops and dark caves where people have come for millennia, or for a season, to make ritual and connect with that which the Druids call awen.  She holds a space, indeed she may hold us for a time, but it is so that we can better understand ourselves and the world, rather than out of any love. She is a Maiden goddess to me, true to herself, aware of her boundaries and setting them clearly.

The Crone awaits me in the dark depths of winter, and perhaps one day I will seek her out. However, I have a feeling that the Maiden will still be at my side, forever and always running with me through forest and field under the bright sunshine, shooting our bows deep into the heart of consciousness and forever singing under the light of the waxing moon.

Dreaming it all up again

The winter solstice is coming up – a time for many across the world to celebrate, whatever their spirituality, if they are religious or not.  For many pagans, and many Druids, the winter solstice is an especially important time of the year, marked in the public eye by the historic landmarks such as Newgrange or Stonehenge.

But it’s the more private celebrations that call to me at this time of year.  Tired after a long year of hard work (with over 30 performances from our dance company, as well as workshops, classes, and filming dvds, on top of writing the next book, Zen Druidry, and oh – yes, my marketing job for a music company…) I am really, really, really looking forward to a couple of week’s rest at the end of December.

This is a time of year when I really connect with my European ancestors and gods – Frigge, the lady of the hearth and home, stands by my shoulder as I spend the evenings baking for my friends and my husband.  I think of my mother’s beautiful hands, remembering them when she was cooking, or stroking the cat – how graceful they are, how unhurried and loving no matter what it was she was doing.  I think of my grandmothers, with their laughter and love, as I drink a toast to them with a little snort of advocaat.  Freya smiles as I snuggle into the warmth of the bed with my husband and cats.

The house is often bathed in the glow of candlelight, with pine scented loveliness drifting through, or the smell of woodsmoke as the fire crackles in the hearth.  Though it is often dark and cold out, the home takes on special importance at this time of year.  A big cleaning is undertaken in readiness for the months where more time is spent indoors, and everything is made just so, for comfort, ease and security.  That feeling of preparedness still hits me late November, early December – make sure everything is good for the next couple of months, for when we will be spiritually, if not physically, snowed in.

For at this time of year, it is the best time to look inwards, to discover your self once again.  Taking the time during the long dark months is perfect – a little meditation instead of the television, for instance, in front of that altar glowing with candles and the smoke of incense drifting through the room.  The nights are so long – what will you do with them? Please, please please – do not watch more television.  Go out with friends. Meditate. Bake. Make love. Walk in the frosty night. But whatever you do, make sure that you take time for yourself.

For me this is the dreaming period, an incubation of sorts.  Time to dream it all up again.  Think on the coming year, and make some plans – holding to them lightly.  Protecting the seeds of your dreams in the darkness of winter, to slowly unfurl when the light returns in the spring.  I absolutely adore it.  There is nothing better than sitting indoors with a cup of hot chocolate, watching the snow fall, if you are so lucky, and simply being in the moment – or walking out with the snow and evening falling silently all around, the smell of winter thick in the cold, swirling air.  Taking inspiration from it all and dreaming, dreaming deep – so deep that when you awaken you are refreshed, and ready for anything.

Take a step back from the manic lights and piped music in restaurants, pubs and shops, and step into your home, touching the frame of the doorway with a soft prayer to the household spirits for their sanctuary.  Let yourself slip into the darkness, lit only by soft candlelight, and let the mind and soul rest for a while.  And may you truly enjoy the holiday season.