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Because I feel like it's important to offer some personal experience as a Dianic, I dug through my archives and found two write ups for two of my rituals. So far (and I'd love to be corrected) I haven't seen too much testimony from Dianics who aren't in agreement with Z. and also are in my general age group (early 30s) so I'd like to offer my experience to the discussion.
Our Sisters, Ourselves
We were in my tiny rabbit hole of an apartment. It was Lammas. My boyfriend had been sent out to play with his guy friends who good-naturedly decided to have a barbecue with the boys since we were doing our “girlie thing”. I made chicken tandori and everyone brought food to share. The Amethyst Circle of Sisters meets monthly on Friday nights so we always feast first to unwind from work or school. It gives us a chance to catch up from the last time we saw each other. It was my turn to priestess because I had taken up Lammas as an Amazon holiday. What better holiday to remind yourself that you have the strength to do things you did not think were possible? We sit in a circle in folding chairs, on cushions, on my couch. We cast the circle hand to hand and I sang pieces of modern songs (“Wings” by Katherine Moon [air] “The Hollow” by a Perfect Circle [fire] “Round Here” by Counting Crows [earth]“Ocean” by Dar Williams [water] and “Triple Goddess Chant” [Goddess]) to invite the elements and the Goddess into our circle. I lead everyone through a grounding meditation and then talked about the meaning of the holiday as I saw it (“I like Lammas. It's an old school kind of holiday with blood and love and redemption. It's the last huzzah before going back to work when the world is still magiksummer and anything could happen [and usually it does]. I've designated it an Amazon holiday for us because while we may individually be in different stages in our lives as maid, mother, or crone, it is the Amazon that ties us all together. When the Goddess slays the God, She does it because she knows she has to. She knows the consequence of her action if She does not. Do not think for a moment She did it because it was easy. We are all capable of doing what we have to do. We all have this kind of Goddess-strength within us. We are here tonight together in sisterhood to remind ourselves of this.”). I talk about Alix Olsen’s spoken word poem, “Daughter” where she talks about birthing herself into a homegrown daughter. I encourage everyone to write a letter to herself, as if we were our own mothers so we can take the opportunity to give ourselves whatever we need (advice, strength, courage, forgiveness) because as women we so often forget to do that. We take turns reading our letters to each other.
“My dearest daughter,
I have waited so long for you.
It’s a harsh world out there. There is room for a lot of sadness and pain.
Never apologize for loving. Never apologize for being loved. You will grow up to be something special, something I am proud of. You have the seeds for greatness and failure.
You will do both.
People will still love you when you fail. They will love the imperfections as much as the perfections. Never apologize for living as you wanted. It’s much easier to live half asleep, apologizing for your existence.
Sisterhood is so painfully beautiful and life is too short to live without it. Tell people you love them because you won’t know when you can. Hug and kiss them and give as much as your heart wants to. Ask for more. You deserve for people to love you as much as you love them. You deserve the bright blessings bestowed on you so don’t waste them.
You are beautiful and fierce the way you and sometimes people hurt you and forget to live their lives as honestly as you. You are not lesser for that. People will try to make you feel small and worthless because they forget the dream. Don’t forget the dream.
I lay forgiveness on your head. Forgiveness for the silence, forgiveness for loving too harshly, forgiveness for forgetting the dream, forgiveness for the ugliness, forgiveness for the self doubt, forgiveness for the self hate, hating this body that the Goddess blessed you.
Love. Love as much as you can.
Don’t be afraid of the pain and the grief. It is a wheel and the wheel can only turn with both sides . . .”
I had a bowl full of rosewater and herbs (lavender. Rose petals. Star Anise. Rosemary.) so we could bless ourselves after reading our letters. I dipped my fingers into the water and said, “I bless you, Lilith Maeve Crow. Thou art woman and thou art Goddess.” While we are in the sacred space of the Goddess we each have an opportunity for personal sharing. We talk about whatever is on our minds and our hearts while we are in this space of the Goddess. We laugh with our personal triumphs and cry about our losses. We hold each other and share the “sacred tissues”. We bless the bread and the juice and feed it to each other. We give the Goddess Benediction and open the circle.
We eat half melted Godiva ice cream smeared onto strawberries and finish catching up. I look around the room to my sisters. Some who are crones and have accomplished things that I can only hope to achieve in my blessedly short life time, some who are mothers who nurture their creative sides while still caring for their loved ones, some who are maidens younger than myself who are as poised as I wish I was when I was there age. And we are all here together in this shining space where it’s our women’s voices, our women’s dreams, our women’s breath, our women’s hopes. And I think, yes, this is what Robin meant when she said, sisterhood is powerful. Yes, this has changed my life. Yes, this has taught me about taking what I need and not being sorry about it. Yes, this has taught me about trusting women and trusting myself. Yes, this has taught me that I am Priestess, too. Yes, this has taught me the joy of women weaving magic together and the sacredness of women’s magic alone. Yes, this has taught me that when we lay hands on our sisters we can heal each other’s bodies and when we listen to each other, we can heal each other’s pain and when we speak we are no longer silent. And throughout history whenever it’s been about us, it’s made us dangerous. And we should be. We should be dangerous women. Because dangerous women get things done.
I gathered up my herbs, holy water, candles, Goddess statue, incense, stones, and set out the ingredients for the corn bread we would be making together as an offering to The White Buffalo Woman. I couldn’t believe it was Lammas already. Had the year gone by so fast? It always does. Lammas is always my ritual in my Dianic circle. Years ago, before the fibro I had insisted on making it an Amazon holiday. My sisters were both enthusiastic and indulgent about the idea. So every year since, I put together a ritual to celebrate our Amazon spirits. My circle believes that we each go through the women’s mysteries and become in turn maid, mother, and crone. It’s the Amazon spirit shining inside of us that binds us together.
It made sense, though, to choose Lammas as our Amazon holiday. In many Goddess myths, Lammas is when the Goddess has to slay the God in order to fertilize the land. If she didn’t, we would all starve. I always found the Greek myth easiest to relate to, personally – the strong sad mother, the willful daughter, and the bad boy Demeter would never completely like, no matter how much baklava he brought her. Lammas is all about being an Amazon – a hardcore woman who will make the right decision, no matter how much it hurts. When no one knew what was wrong with me, all I could do was sleep and cry. I was so foggy that I couldn’t think straight. Couldn’t drive most of the time. Just could swallow pills that made me foggier than I was before. A lot of it is vague fragments of memories of that time – my worried mother, my long time boyfriend who couldn’t stand the strain of not knowing what was wrong with me, the vials and vials of blood they drew and the sugary donuts I would always eat afterwards. The point where I stopped caring about what was wrong with me, as long as they could give it a name.
Circle was one of my few refuges. My sisters would lay their hands on me and it would stop hurting, at least for a while. I thought, if I was so broken, what deity would want me? I didn’t know there were deities who collected broken girls like posies until we could become strong again. I didn’t know that to become Amazon strong, oftentimes one has to die first. And I did, on that table, staring at the ceiling while they took more vials of my blood from me. I didn’t stop breathing but I came to terms with the fact that my life was never going to be the same again for me, no matter what was wrong with me, too much had changed. I had learned the depths of strength and weakness I had hidden inside of me and like Eve, I couldn’t give it back even if I wanted to, it was far too late for that. And I would become strong again. And weak again too. Strong when I held my mother and told her I would be alright even though I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia two decades earlier than most women. Strong when I found what I needed to have in my life to love and be loved. Strong when I left my stupid corporate job that was making me sicker and weaker than I ever thought I could be and never looked back. Strong when I started to make my own way. Strong when I accepted my body. Strong when I accepted the love and support that I bathe in every day. Strong when I realized that I too like Alix Olsen believed in hardship and hard shit and no matter what happened, I would do what needed to be done. Like my mother. Like Demeter. Like my circle sisters. Like all the strong women in my life. And I learned to accept my weaknesses because only accepting strength is only accepting half of myself. Weak when I couldn’t get out of bed. Weak when I pushed myself far too hard. Weak when I hated my body for betraying me. Weak when I refused to accept help. Weak when I felt hopelessness and despair that I would never have the life I thought I needed to have. Weak when I felt angry that my condition had further deteroated.
I know I am an Amazon, every day with my condition it makes me conscious of everything I’m capable of, the big battles and the little battles. Sometimes brushing my hair is an awesome accomplishment. Sometimes spinning my dreams into reality is an awesome accomplishment. I’ve learned to appreciate both. And I’ll be thinking about the strong, beautiful Amazon spirit I have inside of me this Lammas when I am singing in the kitchen with my circle sisters and we do the magic that women do every day – being strong, being together, and turning flour into bread.