Sometimes when I think of honoring the goddess, I think of pristine and beautiful temple spaces, with evocative aromas of incense wafting on the air, candles burning sweetly below sacred statuary, and a mystical sense of reverence, respect, peace, and gratitude.  That’s lovely, and does indeed occur in my lived experience…but there are lots of other everyday practices and seemingly mundane moments that greet me as I walk with the feminine divine, that move beyond idyllic moments where time holds its breath and allows the mystery to come dancing through.

Today found me building a new altar to the goddess in preparation to a forming circle, called The Goddess & Me.  That looked like five hours of moving everything out of a space in my home in an apron with my hair pinned up, scrubbing and dusting and vacuuming and lovingly washing each leaf of the vibrant plants in the new altar space.  At one point, on my hands and knees with my rump in the air and my face red with exertion from scrubbing, I found myself thinking, ‘yep!  this is what honoring the divine looks like!’ with an amused smile on my face.

My partner wandered through at one point, and gave me a lovely acknowledgement for taking such a task so seriously.  That didn’t look like me being somber or serious or precious, but it did look like setting aside an entire day to be in devotion.  To be clear, when I say ‘devotion,’ I don’t mean that I ‘worship’ the goddess, but that I lovingly honor her with my full heart, appreciating her many faces and teachings.  Often, I share with students that part of walking with the divine in a committed and skillful way is the surrender of ‘putting yourself out’ to communicate strong intent, and allow the divine to answer our efforts back.  In my direct experience, when I truly show up, do the work, live the practice, and pour my whole heart – scrubbing red-faced on hands and knees and all – spaces open for miracles, kindness, mystery, and joy.

Back to the altar…once the space was thoroughly scrubbed and energetically cleansed, and I had changed into an ocean-colored shawl I love and jewelry that has me feeling my own feminine divine, I listened to what wanted to live on the altar space.  The guidance from the goddess was clean and clear, and I was led to some sacred items that are, for me, rich in symbolism and power.  A special diaphanous teal cloth that’s seen many ceremonies and a much-loved rabbit pelt laid the altar’s foundation, as did a hefty beeswax pillar, and a large statuary of a dragon regally bearing mother Quan Yin, who offers grace and love without condition.  She was joined by two smaller statuary of the Mother and the Woman of Willendorf, that I ripped the house apart from stem to stern to find.  As I anointed and welcomed the Woman, I felt such resonance and awe!  That ancient four-inch statue signals to us in our modern times how two-leggeds have honored the feminine divine since time immemorial, and I felt the mystery and power of her rippling through the 25,000 years since that amazing little figure was created.  What grace!

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Next came the shining copper altar bowl adorned with the triple goddess crescent and full moon, holding The Empress card in her little belly, a heart-shaped and palm-sized carnelian, and a prayer card honoring beloved mother Sekhmet.  Note: most folks won’t name Sekhmet a mother goddess, but she turns that face to me in her magnificence, as she owns her awesome ferocity and destructive force, and also her love without limit like the searing sun.  In quick succession, oracle cards welcoming many faces of the goddess arrived, from many times and cultures all over Earth’s herstory.  Sekhmet, Ghyldeptis, Sophia, Bast, Hathor, Pele, Aphrodite, Hestia, Ostara, Amaterasu, and Lakshmi all felt like supportive sisters, mothers, guardians, and friends, and I spoke their blessings and teachings as their images graced the altar, bringing her to life.

To be clear, I don’t ‘claim’ any of these goddesses, although I have given my heart and devotion to Sekhmet (and that’s a story for another day) and deeply honor the feminine in her many myriad forms.  For me, the countless faces of the goddess, from so many cultures and worldviews, are like the endless stars in the sky…each a sparkling world unto themselves, with different gifts, medicines, and blessings.  All of the faces of the goddess are equally beautiful to me, just as each constellation is an equal mystery, wonder, and delight.  For me, it’s a deep joy to learn as much as I can about the many forms the goddess wears…I know the most perfect one will reveal herself to me when I need her kind or forceful teachings.  Simply and with a full and reverent heart, I give thanks.

Back at the altar, I made ready to sanctify the space…just as a huge glossy raven landed on the balcony feet from where I sat – I felt the hand of the mystery on me, as omen sat keeping watch with one bright eye.  Smiling, I drew sacred symbols in the air, speaking all that I wished to welcome – love, kindness, joy, curiosity, wonder, appreciation, divinity, homecoming, miracles…the list was long, and felt right as each was spoken.  I sang, offered essential oils, anointed myself, and sat in gratitude.  I drew 15 little goddess figures with pens I love, each a different color, to begin welcoming my sisters into the forming circle that this altar holds space for.  Each little goddess revealed her own personality – some were round and squat, some sinewy and lean, some rambunctious and free, some quiet and holy.  Each found her place with ease, and at last, six hours later…the stage was set.

I drummed to help myself step outside of linear time and human concerns, and made pilgrimage in the unseen to the Temple Of The Goddess.  I brought my love and devotion as offering, and these were received with gratitude by the priestesses who hold vigil and allow entry there.  I walked slowly down the stairs leading into a deep pool of sacred water, and felt cleansing waters close over my head.  Still walking forward, I rose on the stairs at the other side, water running down my body in little sparkling rivers, with a new sense of clarity and purpose crowning me.

In the innermost sanctum of the goddess, where seekers can experience her millions of faces, I knelt, offering my reverence and thanks.  I received messages that are mine to contemplate and hold, and at journey’s end, countless goddesses arrived, in extravagant finery, naked flesh, humble robes, and subtle hue.  Although I approach with reverence, I also approach with celebration…each of these many sisters and beloveds, who embody power and grace and unique teachings, touch my sacred heart.  Gifts were bestowed and received with gratitude…magic is afoot!

One of the things I can share is this: as I spoke with the great, faceless Her, she asked me to write this afternoon, and let me know she would move through me.  As I type, I feel her with me, and I find myself smiling as I sit in the presence of love.  In some manner of days now, the first cycle of The Goddess & Me will begin, and we will come together, called by her divine nature and gifts, to discover ourselves through and in her.  With shining eyes and full heart, I welcome you to circle, and lay gratitudes like roses at the feet of the goddess.

Each of us will have a different experience of The Goddess & Me.  Some of us, in our nine months together, will work with a unique goddess for each 3-month Maiden, Mother and Crone segment, and some will welcome one resonant goddess who encompasses all of these powerful archetypal medicines in her own way.

Some of us will enter at Maiden, some at Mother, some at Crone to begin our 9 month journey of becoming – the wheel is ever-turning.  Some of us will go ‘whole-hog,’ and build altars, craft exquisite ceremonies of activation, perform each quest and pilgrimage, create sacred art, tend our community prayer bowls, and dive deep into meeting a new goddess with each Rhythm Of The Cosmos email on New and Full Moons.

Some of us will form life-long friendships with other seekers in the same way we encounter dear friends for the first time when we visit the temple, and some will venture solo and sacrosanct as is most perfect for them.  Some of us will do none of these things, but show up in circle to learn from each shared story, struggle, or triumph in a lived human life and be the richer for it.  All of us will take direct journeys of revelation with the goddess who calls to us (think BYOG), and receive teachings, healings, wisdom, and love.

I have no idea what your experience of The Goddess & Me will be like, as you walk your own path of embodying goddess spirituality…but I offer that your larger essential self does, and so does the goddess.  Whether this 9-month adventure awakens priestess aspects within, helps you come home to yourself, or catalyzes unexpected miracles, there is spaciousness for each of us to dive deep and receive exactly what we need most.  Should you show up with a full heart and the kindly medicines of respect, generosity, curiosity, dedication, and reverence in your luggage…you are welcome.

If you are reading…she is calling you home.

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IMAGE CREDIT: The goddesses on the altar are from The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marshinsky, with illustration by Hrana Janto.  The Sekhment prayer card is from WyrdCuriosities.