I was raised Catholic, then when I was 12 my parents began studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses. There were things about each religion that I liked. In our Catholic church, the incense, the rituals, the ancient language resonated with me. I felt early on that the depiction of Mary and Mary Magdeline and other women in the Bible were not accurate, except for how beautiful they were in the statues and paintings. There seemed to be much left out about them, their sides of the story were missing, and the framing of the teachings seemed suspect to me – even as a child I knew these things. Inspite of disagreeing with church dogma, in many ways I felt at home in the sanctuary of the church – I believe it was because it was designed to be a place for the Holy to enter. And, so as a child, when we would kneel, I would say my own versions of the rosary and other prayers silently, often getting so lost in my own attentions to the Divine that my father would have to nudge me to stand or sit again as required in the weekly patterned ritual of the service.
When we became Jehovah’s Witness, I loved that we were allowed to study the scriptures. I didn’t always agree with the interpretations, but I loved the idea of living on a Paradise Earth, and the practice of non-violence they instilled in their congregants. Yet the position of women in that faith made me feel uncomfortable and even upset. In my experience women were treated well by the men, but their “position” was always in subservience to the men. Men could speak and teach from the pulpit. Women could only speak on the side and in demonstrations but were not allowed to actually address the congregation in the role of leadership, nor teach the congregation, nor pray out loud in the company of men. If there were only women in a study group, then a woman could offer a prayer, but if there was a man in the room, regardless of his experience or heart-place, he was the one to offer the prayer and lead the group study and these bothered me. It seemed not only inauthentic, but also hindering of access to the Divine and a disservice to those who could have been better taught by women and the experiences of women.
As a young adult, I was introduced to the works and teachings of Louise Hay and Laurie Cabot at the same time. Louise’s book You Can Heal Your Life and Laurie’s The Witch in Every Woman changed my Life, and changed the direction of my Spiritual Path. In one fell swoop I began merging the metaphysical teaching of Louise with the magickal ones of Laurie, creating my own rituals that combined both opened access to astral and Ethereal planes, as well as empowered me to study more deeply into the Sacred Feminine teachings. I enrolled in Druid studies and learned much about Celtic Mythology and Goddesses. Also taking then teaching Liz Fisher’s “Rise Up and Call her Name” Curriculum which immersed me in women honoring earth-based spirituality from around the globe. The list goes on over the past two decades, including enrolling in a metaphysical divinity school and becoming an interfaith minister. Many moments over the course of time have affirmed this path for me.
One of the most pivotal: Several years ago I was residing in Concord, MA and joined a Women’s Goddess Covenant Group at the Unitarian Universalist Church there. The Women’s Group had been in existence for 25 years, the founder having taking Cakes for the Queen of Heaven and bringing it back to her congregation. The group was large and in addition to their private gatherings on the new moon and full moon each month and annual retreats, we hosted two public rituals in the Church Parlor each year. But not once had the group been invited to lead Sunday services in the Sanctuary. So, we asked to lead, and were given permission to. It was a pivotal moment for me, standing in the sanctuary infront of the congregation, creating a ritual space with all present as we called the directions, teaching our chants, and, as the one designated to lead the service, I found myself preaching from the pulpit. And LOVED it!!!
Memories from my Catholic and JW upbringing flooded back. This is what was missing. This was the whispering of the Call I felt caressing me way back then. I embrace it fully now and regularly lead services as a Guest in the Pulpit for UU and other liberal congregations.
In many ways my secular, artistic and spiritual callings all stem from the Call of the Goddess and Earth Honoring, Spirit Affirming aspects: I published an anthology called “Women of Spirit, Exploring Sacred Paths of Wisdom Keepers” featuring 28 women from many walks of faith. I created two television series that lift up women’s voices and women’s experiences: “Empowering Women” and “The Goddess Show.” I am also the co-Convener of UU Women and Religion where I support women’s spirituality in our faith tradition and help bring the Shared Leadership model of group facilitation to those who wish to learn it.