Goddess Temple Newsletter
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You can read some of this season’s content below – or choose to download the entire newsletter to print or read as you wish – see below for more details.
Hello everybody ! First I would like to introduce myself ; my name is Janet Parfitt and I am a priestess of the Goddess, I am currently training to be a priestess of Cerridwen and I am the new editor of the Goddess Temple News. I would like to thank Lorraine Pickles and Lisa Newing for the fantastic work they have done as co-editors of the Goddess Temple News and wish them both the best for the future. As Imbolc approaches it is a time when we all tend to think of new beginnings and I hope that my time as editor will be good for all of us.
Bridget brings us warmth and the fires of the hearth as well as the fires of her forge and the fires of creativity. As the ground starts to warm the dormant seeds are swelling underground ready to burst forward into new growth but often the secret of success is timing. In today’s society it is often all about rushing and doing everything at top speed but Goddess reminds us that sometimes it is the right thing to rest, wait and be patient knowing that the right time to bloom will always be revealed to us.
I know that I am not alone in having been poorly this winter and however tempting it is to leap off your sick bed and throw yourself back into the fray we can learn to our cost that that can be a foolish thing to do and our bodies are telling us that they need rest and we will suffer if we don’t listen to what our bodies are telling us. Imbolc, to me at least, does not have the frenetic energy of high summer but is a time of waiting as growth happens below the surface ; the inner journey of winter is not quite complete. Goddess and flowers know the right time to bloom ; it is us who have lost touch with nature who are often in too much of a hurry.
So at this season I humbly ask you all to be gentle with yourselves and give yourselves time to recover from illnesses, to think, to read, and to relax as much as you possibly can. The trees and the flowers do not live their lives at a hundred miles an hour and neither should we.
The Motherworld Party
or something different?
by Stephanie Mathivet, Priestess of the Goddess
It is certainly time for the Goddess Temple to develop a politically oriented activist wing. The Goddess movement was borne of this, and many causes can be spurred on and grounded by the politics being rooted in Goddess philosophy. Whether that should be in the form of a political party is an idea whose time has come, but is it the right, or at least the most effective, idea? A political party puts its member on the map within the political landscape and allows a distinct ideology to be nailed to the mast. Gaining credence, and moreover, winning enough votes to be able to have elected representatives, takes years of arduous work, often compromising in key areas to get to where you want to be. A political party is about becoming mainstream, even if the aim is to change the way that the system works to achieve your aims. If you want to understand what it means to enter the mainstream from the perspective of a party who is struggling for recognition and support from within that milieu I recommend Caroline Lucas’ book ‘Honourable friends? – Parliament and the Fight for Change.’ In it she describes what it is like for an MP from a minority party – The Green Party – to hold their own and achieve change within a system steeped in patriarchal and hierarchical protocols and rituals. She also describes the ‘corrupt’ way that things are done, especially with those who push for a neo-liberal agenda.
Audrey Lorde was right. You cannot use the Master’s tools to take down the Master’s house. Rather, you need to be on the outside of it, pestering it and giving it hell, weakening it from foundations to afters and demanding that those elected to represent us are called to account. Working on the outside, even a relatively small number of people can drive forward an agenda to create change while remaining true to its aims and ideology. It is to be the tail that wags the dog. We can remember how the anti-apartheid movement was once the thorn in the side of the South African government, with adherents all over the world, bringing down that system. Likewise, the Civil Rights movement in the US. Once in the mainstream, these movements become part of the system, the same oppressive hierarchy, and those outside of it are required once more to call it to account. With the occasional exception, feminist politics has operated outside of the system too but where it becomes mainstream we can see how easily its stance has been co-opted by the ‘jobs for the girls’ brigade, more concerned about the glass ceiling than the countless numbers of women working their fingers to the bone for minimum wage.
Ultimately, being small with sharp teeth can create as much change as a mainstream movement. Not being party bound means that you can choose where to spend your energy and limited resources. It means that you can have groups within your group, often with overlapping members, that enables your ideological stance to pull together the threads of many issues, creating coherence of the whole. To the outside, you are then perceived by diverse groups as relating to them, talking the talk on their issues and singing their song. Such a structure gives space for issues based politics to be powerful because it is led by those who know, who have authentic experience which resonates with those who identify with that experience. This is intersectional politics. This is non-essentialist politics, for we experience this world from different spaces. We are not all the same.
Being small with sharp teeth means to have strategies and ways of working that are focused and clear. Allies and alliances are critical, as are connections in places like the local council or Parliament, where you can lobby support for your cause. What is most important is a well-defined political ideology that provides an analysis of what is wrong and a clear rationale for activism. There is a political spectrum and an activist group needs to define where it is positioned on it. Traditionally, Goddess Spirituality grew from the politics of the Left. The New Age has attempted to co-opt it into the territory of the ‘radical middle’, but the shifting of the centre ground to the Right has pulled much of what is familiar to us nowadays in Goddess Spirituality to the neo-liberal right. Developing a political wing for the Goddess Temple needs to regain that ground if it is to serve in any kind of meaningful context in our world. To dismantle patriarchy involves dismantling sexism, racism, hetero-sexism etc – in short, all the many oppressive strands that dominate or lives according to who we are and where we come from. And that includes corporate capitalism too.
Some time ago I had a vision, and then set it to one side, with no time to develop it and lack of belief that anyone might view it as credible. So, I am putting it out there, out here, now. The vision went like this:
Many moons past, backalong, upon the Ancient Isle of Avalon there existed Nine Priestesses who sat in circle to reflect on the way of the world and to keep the balance between the worlds so humans could live happy fulfilled lives. They would utter Divine Proclamations that guided human behaviour and called it out when wrong was done and the balance of life sent out of kilter. Hubris against the Goddess was not so much ‘punishable’, as that is a patriarchal concept, but an act that set the balance of things askew and which needed to be righted. The Nine Priestesses were known as The Vivienne, each one with the same name, but a different aspect of the Justice and Balance that they sought to have replicated in the world beyond the Isle. They were The Parliament of the Divine Sisterhood. In this vision, the Lady of the Lake is once again holding up the Sword to be taken into the hands of the Priestesses of this time who wish to serve as The Vivienne. The sword represents the idea and beliefs whose time has come. It represents the struggle to achieve justice and the righting of wrongs, as there can be no peace without justice. It represents the cutting analysis, the sharp severance of that which does not serve humanity, the ability to see the point and to cut to the chase.
Each Priestess of The Vivienne holds a Direction of the Wheel of Avalon. As a Guardian, she stands holding a distaff in her left hand to represent the gynocratic values of that Direction and which she defends. With her right hand, she holds an apple. Each distaff is from a different tree and each apple is also of a different local variety and is distinct to The Vivienne of that Direction. Each direction has a defined area of political focus, pertinent to our time. The Vivienne may work with other groups or provide leadership to others who also want to support that cause. She acts as a reference point and is knowledgeable on the issues within the boundary of her Direction. When the call comes, she answers ceremonially, summoning the power of her Direction before she acts in the world. She will stand with her distaff, which she strikes the ground three times and issues her proclamation. This is the Word of the Goddess. It is then made manifest in the world through press releases – this is what the Goddess Temple has to say on this matter – or in leaflets or posters or social media – but issued in the language of the secular world. The Goddess has spoken through The Vivienne. She may sign a petition or start a petition and ensure it gathers signatures, she may speak at a meeting, or join a demonstration, she may write to her MP or do any one of many mainstream activist strategies, but her power lies in her circle of the Nine Vivienne. The Sisterhood who provide the spiritual guidance and strength, the ceremonial sustenance and the sense of divine connection to Her.
… to be continued at Beltane