Eight Paths to the Goddess
On the spring equinox this year, with the full moon in Virgo, about a hundred people gathered excitedly together in Ashland, Oregon, to dance, to pray, and to perform ceremonies to consecrate a new temple to honor the Sacred Feminine and to invoke the rebalancing of the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine energies on earth. The Goddess Temple of Ashland was birthed from a vision of Graell Corsini, who felt guided to bring together 19 women, including me, from a diverse background of the world’s wisdom traditions and healing arts. The goal was to create a sacred space for people to explore their own personal experience of inner union with the Divine Feminine.
Part of the inspiration came from the goddess temple in Glastonbury, England, which was formally registered as a place of worship in 2003. That simple ceremony is thought to be the first time a goddess temple has been consecrated in approximately 1,500 years.
Other inspiration came from mystic scholars, including Andrew Harvey, who heralded 2011 as the “Year of the Emerging Divine Feminine.” Dr. Harvey says that “Clearly, now the Divine Feminine is the most important single facet of the religious renaissance of the last 30 to 40 years. Unless we come to know what the Sacred Feminine really is — its subtlety and flexibility but also its extraordinarily ruthless, radical power of dissolving all structures and dogmas, all prisons in which we have sought so passionately to imprison ourselves — we will be taken in by patriarchal projections of it.
“Catastrophe can become grace, and disaster possibility, only if we transform their energy by accepting what they have to teach us and acting with complete sincerity to transform ourselves.”
Likewise, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, a Sufi mystic and author of The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul, adds: “Our culture’s focus on a disembodied, transcendent God has left women bereft, denying them the sacredness of this simple mystery of divine love. The Feminine is the matrix of creation. This truth is something profound and elemental, and every woman knows it in the cells of her body, in her instinctual depths.”
A Path beyond Words
The goddess temple is more anecdotal evidence of the rebirth of the universal Mother — perhaps the greatest single spiritual movement taking place on the planet. When the 19 of us first gathered, however, none of us had any idea how the temple would manifest. We each felt that a power greater than ourselves was working some magic to orchestrate this temple’s creation, and we were willing to take a leap of faith, based on intuition.
We also shared the sense that, as Vaughan-Lee puts it, “By denying the Feminine her sacred power and purpose, we impoverish life in ways we do not understand. We deny life its sacred source of meaning and divine purpose, which was understood by ancient priestesses. In our contemporary culture we cannot understand how a deeper mystery was enacted, one that consciously connected life to its source in the inner worlds, a source that held the wholeness of life as an embodiment of the divine, allowing the wonder of the divine to be present in every moment.”
We felt the same sense of urgency that Harvey speaks to so passionately: “Unless we awaken to the mystery of the Sacred Feminine, of the Feminine as sacred, and allow it to illumine and penetrate every area of our activity and to create in them harmony, justice, peace, love, ecstasy, and balance, we will die out and take nature, or a large part of it, with us.”
Reclaiming the Feminine
In our gathering we learned that to honor the Sacred Feminine is to honor our sacred connection to life that is present in every moment. As Vaughan-Lee says in The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul: “It means to realize that life is one whole and begin to recognize the interconnections that form the web of life. It means to realize that everything, every act, even every thought, affects the whole. And it also means to allow life to speak to us. We are constantly bombarded by so many impressions, by so much media and advertising, that it is not easy to hear the simple voice of life itself. But it is present, even within the mirage of our fears and desires, our anxieties and expectations. And life is waiting for us to listen: it just needs us to be present and attentive. It is trying to communicate to us the secrets of creation so that we can participate in the wonder that is being born.
“The choice is simple. Can we remember the wholeness that is within us, the wholeness that unites spirit and matter? Or will we continue walking down this road that has abandoned the Divine Feminine, that has cut women off from their sacred power and knowledge? If we choose the former we can begin to reclaim the world, not with masculine plans, but with the wisdom of the feminine, the wisdom that belongs to life itself. If we choose the latter we may attempt some surface solutions with new technology. We may combat global warming and pollution with scientific plans. But there will be no real change. A world that is not connected to its soul cannot heal. Without the participation of the Divine Feminine nothing new can be born.”
Our chosen site for birthing the temple was the Jackson Wellsprings, a hot springs that has been visited for centuries for healing, birthing, and peacemaking. Soon after the first meeting, a large dome was donated by one of the founding members to house the temple until a more permanent structure can be built. At the consecration of the temple, Sharron Rose, a filmmaker, teacher, and mystic scholar, choreographed a sacred Egyptian Hathor dance performance. As she explained, “In all the ancient traditions there were these temples where people would come and be healed through sound, through music, through art, through various healing techniques. I feel that this goddess temple really has potential to manifest that and that people will come. My vision is to make it a center that will be worldwide.”
Afterward, I spoke with other founding members of the temple and discovered eight common pathways leading to a personal experience of embodying the Sacred Feminine. These pathways are explained below:
1. Connection with Nature
“In coming into the heartbeat of the Earth through honoring natural time cycles, we deepen into the rhythms that help awaken this place within. Once we drop into this feminine receptive field, whether we are a man or a woman, we are able to begin receiving a depth of peace and wisdom that flows from simply observing the inherent harmonies of nature. We can then attune our bodies and consciousness to this harmony as well. I am convinced that a huge amount of the healing and rebalancing that the Earth needs at this time, whether it concerns ecology and sustainability, social systems, or political peacemaking, requires a return to the quiet wisdom of the Earth and the Divine Feminine flowing through us all.” — Violet MoonRain McBride
“I access her through service, through practices of subtle internal alignment, through prayer, dance, personal ritual, and above all, through devotion and right action. I believe that the best way for anyone to know her is to consciously take a vow to serve her, to commit oneself again and again to what it means in any moment to be an instrument of her wisdom in the world. Everyone finds his or her own way to be a vessel for her, to be her hands of mercy.” — Jumana King-Harris
3. Embodiment Practices
“For me, the Divine Feminine is full embodiment and presence, through the body, through the senses, through emotions, and primarily through pleasure. Tantric dance circles with women and men have been my primary path to accessing that deeper internal mystery and that sense of connectedness within. I’ve had men just crying that they were actually invited and allowed into these sacred circles to come into contact with this energy. To me the energy of the embodied Sacred Feminine feels like tingles and aliveness and pleasure in my whole body. It feels like my heart just blossoming open with every breath; it feels like ripples and waves of pleasurable joy, and it was so foreign to me, especially when I was new to these practices. I was in such a shielded and guarded and armored body.” — Renee Jeffus
4. Intuition and Spirit Guidance
“I recommend transitioning from mind-centered to spirit-centered decision making, discovering a practice of seeking guidance in nature, and working with a lunar calendar, such as the 13 moon calendar or We’Moon planner. In addition, learning shamanic journeying can be a very powerful tool in accessing the wisdom of the Earth, and deepening into a receptive relationship with the divine.” — Violet MoonRain McBride (shamanicawakenings.com)
“Given that we are each embodiments of divine creative power, I feel it is very much about each woman attuning to her own unique soul-encoded spirit source and learning how to more fully embody her divinity. We need to honor and connect to our own unique energy signature and flame in order to become attuned to feminine divinity.” — Wahkeena Sitka
5. Sacred Ceremony and Spiritual Practices
“Ceremonial menstruation is a powerful way to deepen our experience with the goddess. Each time a woman bleeds she is being called to ceremony with the Earth, so when we accept this time as sacred, we will create a new relationship with our bodies and the world around us. Directly returning the menstrual flow to the soil is a powerful practice of healing and prayer. I highly recommend experimenting with this ancient ritual as a way to connect to the goddess. When menstruation is reclaimed as sacred, we will see a long-awaited balance restored to our world. Sitting upon the Earth during this time of the month and simply resting or meditating is all that is needed to be in full communion with nature.” —Jasmin Starrchild (redmoon13.ning.com)
6. Sacred Sexuality
“In the tantric tradition, there is the worship of women. This can include practices such as gazing at the woman with love, bringing her flowers, speaking to women from the heart, sitting together, and energetically linking your chakras and allowing the bliss of that to permeate into the world. True heart-connection is the greatest thing.” — Sharron Rose
7. Conscious Birthing and Mothering
“As a sacred midwife and mother, I feel that gathering women together to energetically support a woman through the birthing process is a profound pathway to experiencing birth as a great Sacred Feminine mystery. We bring priestesses together to energetically support the birthing mother and her partner during labor through ecstatic dance ceremony.
“The prayer of support is expressed on the dance floor through channeled tribal labor dances, sending the birthing mother the energy and connection to her community that is so vital during her initiation of childbirth and parenting. We either do this ritual at private homes or from a separate location, sending long-distance support.” — Graell Corsini (birthdancepriestess.com)
8. Awakening to Our Healership
“My first experience of feeling this Sacred Feminine essence channel through me was while doing energy work on a dear male friend. He later told me that this energy was able to permeate deeply and provide balm for some of his long-neglected core wounds. He said that he feels the reason that many men have not been able to request the sharing of this kind of energy is because many of them have not allowed themselves to be ‘unarmored’ enough to fully experience it, don’t know what it would feel like, or are not familiar with the language to describe it. Therefore, they don’t know how to request it and often, on the surface level, are unaware that they even lack it.” — Prema Gaia