A Dance with the Divine Feminine and Goddess Spirituality
by Reverend April Lussier
Excerpt from “Tapping into God” Experiencing the Spiritual Spectrum,
Debbie Belmessieri, 2011
My Spiritual dance has many cadences; complex yet simple, eclectic and pure, from Ancient Times to New Age, of both the physical and unseen worlds. This dance coalesced from traditions and beliefs of Christianity, Metaphysics, Goddess Spirituality and Earth Honoring Paganism.
I believe that the Divine’s charge is to “remember” we are connected to Source, through our creation an expression of the Divine. I stand strong with the belief that the Divine Universal Consciousness is an omnipotent presence, so profound it is beyond my ability to understand or conceptualize. In spite of my limited understanding, I hold at my core this “knowing:” I am a child/an aspect/a part of this “Divine Source” and that my body is a Sacred temple for the spark of Divinity within me.
Since pre Judea-Christianity, the Goddess was widely embraced for centuries by the matriarchal cultures. This historical reference fosters the belief by many that the Divine Feminine face of God is the Goddess. 1The New International Version of the Bible, Genesis 5:1, states “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.”1 The scribes and educated of the time were men, and generally wrote from a masculine perspective. So many women conclude that when the Divine created woman she made her in the likeness of the Goddess. Some may consider all of this a play with words or even futile, for the Divine is beyond description or true understanding. Nevertheless, for as long as humanity has known of a Supreme Being, they have attempted to define and understand the Divine through many names and faces.
Therefore, I practice Goddess Spirituality as honoring of the Divine Feminine, as others have revered her over eons of time. Her aspects of maiden, mother, queen and crone (wise-woman) are ever-present as sources of inspiration, guidance, strength and healing. She is the spark of Divinity within me, for I am in female form. I am her and she is me. The Goddess is the Creatrix of my life experiences, birther of all my creations, whether the conception of a child or an idea. She is the passion that moves me to action.
The Goddess is within all women, every girl child, mother and old woman. Her reflection is in the women of the past and future. Her body is that of the earth, the stars, and the moon. The Goddess is in the voices of change, the healing hands of compassion, the allowing that comes through unconditional love. She resides in the physical and ethereal, in the past and the present, in the transcended and the mundane.
It was during my metaphysical studies that I truly grokked2 the concepts of reality being both visible and invisible, expressed in the natural and the supernatural; that our worldly experience consists of more than what we can see, quantify, or explain.
The Christianity I live is free of dogma/doctrine and succinctly describe by Dr. Vladimir Antonov in his book “The Original Teachings of Jesus Christ.” Dr. Antonov writes, “The term Christianity may denote the whole of knowledge imparted by the Creator to incarnate people — during the entire history of human existence on the Earth — through His Messengers, Who are called in different languages by the names Messiah, Christ, Avatar.”1 Jesus Christ’s version was the “Teachings about the Path to Perfection,” but “unfortunately, the Teachings of Jesus were many times reduced and perverted due to people’s ignorance, and quite often were turned from Christianity. The spiritual Path taught by Jesus …” is described in 3 steps:
“The first step implies receiving the knowledge about what God is, what the Evolution of the Universal Consciousness is, what constitutes the meaning of human life and how to realize it in the optimal way. The second step is aligning one’s ethical qualities with the type of righteousness suggested to us by God.” And “the third one is work on oneself using esoteric meditative techniques with the purpose of developing oneself as a soul, consciousness — up to that level where one becomes capable of knowing directly the non-incarnate Divine Representatives of the Creator and the Creator Himself, and then — merging with Him.”3 Dr Antonov’s steps are building blocks of my Christian expression and practice.
The Earth Honoring Pagan spiritual practices of pre-Christianity are an integral part of my spiritual practice. Pagan is defined in the 8th or 9th century BC classical Latin meaning of paganus as “country dweller, rustic, being connected to the land.” The worldwide matriarchal earth honoring polytheistic traditions or folk religions included polytheistic, spiritualist, animistic or shamanic practices. I embrace many of these pre-Christian practices to live in harmony with all life, the land, the moon, and earth’s cycles, the magic and healing powers of herbs, plants and crystals and the guidance and wisdom of the unseen spirit world.
In my daily practice, I align to my heart center energy, my fourth chakra, which expands my ability to honor the sacredness and interrelationship of all life. I use conscious breathing to connect with Source when I have become distracted and slip into the unconscious patterns of old thinking, the misconceptions of separateness, and survival mode. This allows my senses to refocus and be fully present to notice the Divine revealed all around me.
Moving through the day in gratitude also aligns me to the Divine. At the entrance of my home there is a fragrant lemon verbena bush that extends its way into the walkway. Often as I walk past, it brushes me and brings my awareness to her blessed cleansing. Being mindful also heightens my awareness of the Divine’s expression in my daily world; when sunbeams shine though the window, when the rain plays a song on the roof, when the night insects sing me a lullaby, when I turn on a faucet and blessed water flows generously into my hands. Moment to moment she shows herself and I speak my appreciation and gratitude; at times out loud or in a silent dialog for only her alone to hear.
I honor my relationship with my Divine Source through service as a minister, a spiritual counselor, as a ceremonialist, priestess and healing channel.
My spiritual unfoldment and seeking began as a young adult at St. Paul’s United Methodist church in Canton, Ohio. I was encouraged to question and discover my own understanding of Jesus’ teachings. I remember Rev. Appel’s sermons included the church’s views along with his perspective, and would end with a charge for us to find our own truth from the message. This was overwhelming at times but I remember the invigoration I felt to seek out my own truth. In my mid- twenties, I began to recognize and acknowledge the Divine guidance I was receiving. In 1976 in Toledo, Ohio through a sequence of unusual events, I found myself at a house meeting studying a channeled work called “Melchizedek Truth Principles: From the Ancient Mystical White Brotherhood” by Frater Achad. This was my first exposure to Metaphysics, energetic healing, and channeled writing. Even though I could not intellectually understand my experience, I had an unfathomable knowing of its importance in my life. It was a portal for expanded spiritual thinking to become my journey.
Soon after I move to California; I had my first conscious message/guidance from Spirit It was in 1982 while brushing my teeth I asked silently, “How could I connect with a metaphysical community here in San Jose?” Spirit’s message was to go look in the yellow pages under metaphysics. I thought how very odd! How could something so “out of the norm” be listed in the yellow pages? Well thankfully, I listened to the urging of Spirit and to my delightful surprise listed under Metaphysics was Center for Infinite Growth (CIG), Rev Tom Garry’s UCM Charter.
At CIG, I found a community, a family, a spiritual home and attended regularly. I continued my Metaphysical studies and seeking through meditations, spiritual classes, conferences, retreats, lectures, and integrating all my experiences through my roles of wife, mother, friend, community leader, and homeschooling teacher.
For the next twelve years at the Center, I felt spiritually fed and gained valuable insights and wisdom. It was during those years that unease bubbled to the surface. I felt an internal questioning regarding what part of me was “sacred.” Some around me were attempting to rise above their negative feelings to be more “Spiritual,” i.e. turn the other cheek, think positive thoughts, not upset others or make waves, etc. Yet I had a fire within that when accessed over the years made positive changes in my world. I also understood this fire within me could be destructive if driven by ego and show up as rage. I began to struggle with the idea of what it was “to be spiritual.” Did aspects of myself need to be squashed, aspects that could make change through right action or spoken truth? How could this be, if I am created in the image of the Divine, then all of me must be sacred and divine… right? What about my fire, my passion, my questioning, my assertiveness? Did I need to push aspects of myself aside to be spiritual? Was not all of me Divine, even the parts that made waves?
I continued my spiritual seeking, all the while silently carrying within those unanswered questions and uneasy stirrings. Then in 1994, I attended a Goddess Circle facilitated by Rev Lynn Rogers. There I learned of another concept of the Divine, the Goddess. In my early church experiences, there was not a feminine face of God; the women were depicted as “nurturers.” i.e. Mary was Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene a woman who washed Jesus’ feet. In school, I learned of the Greek and Roman Goddesses as characters of myths of the distant past; not as archetypes for all women, and their Divinity. As soon as learned of a female aspect of God; I felt a deep inner familiarity. A sense of profound comfort flowed over me.
It was an exciting time. My explorations of this new expression of the Divine lead me to the powerful Hawaiian Volcano Goddess Pele. It was through the sacredness of Pele; in all her expressions of the Divine, that I could honor the fire in my belly, as a Divine expression. Pele can destroy and create new land. Through Her, I was able to accept all of me as sacred and release the confusion I had carried for so many years. With great reverence, I recognize fire’s power to transforms and transmute as a vital aspect of this planet and myself. I do not take this lightly; I take great effort to not “fire off at will,” but take responsibility to be mindful; to use all aspects of myself for right purpose with conscious intention.
My journey with Goddess Spirituality has placed me in roles of Ceremonialist, Priestess and Wisewoman. A guide for other women to learn of the Goddess, to awaken to their Goddess within and recognize Her presence everywhere. We gather at the Full Moons, the Eight High Holy Days of the Wheel of the Year, and for Rites of Passage. Sacred ceremonies and rituals are powerful venues to allow for the integration of our inner knowing and our body-mind wisdom. To break free from the patterns of thinking that no longer serve us, and to embrace all that we are: Divine Feminine Beings in physical form.
Our experience in the physical, allows the Sacred to be expressed in all that we do. Each experience offers opportunities to observe and self-reflect; are we in alignment with our unique Divine expression or are we living in the illusion of separateness from Source? This is the dance; to be mindful, observe, and if needed choose realignment to the oneness of all-the Divine.
Ceremony is a sacred space to learn this dance, to reframe our obstacle thinking and connect deeper to our inner knowing and soul’s desires. Moving through the ceremonies’ elements, thinking shifts into knowing and opens a passage into an innate acting out-a declaration of one’s deepest intentions. This creates the opportunity for participants in their own way to be in sacred movement to align into Oneness with the Divine.
My ceremonial work calls upon me to create and hold a blessed container for both co-ed and women, to make a deeper connection with their higher-self, the Divine Spark within and their divine purpose. In Sacred ceremony, there is a spacious allowing for each participant’s unique expression and individual process. For that moment, gone is the duality of a right or wrong response and each person’s sacred process is their own. For example, in a guided meditation at a Spring Equinox Ceremony honoring the young maiden and the fairy realm, the women were invited to visualize themselves little again. Then invited to witness what appeared in their mind’s eye. Half of the circle had lovely sweet images and the other had difficult and sad ones. It was, however, all in Divine Order. For within the ceremony’s magic and safety each woman’s experience was uniquely and most importantly her own to experience. It is when the issue or concern appears that the healing or honoring can begin. Tapping into the wisdom that there is “no time or space,” each woman accessed the unlimited possibilities available to her to recreate and heal her past. Through visualization, she sees her young maiden self in her perfect Divine expression allowing Divine Grace to flow over them both in the magic and sacredness of the moment.
Sacred ceremonies traditionally contain several rituals. Rituals are physical expressions of our deep desires and intentions, an opportunity for sacred dialog with our Divine aspect and soul’s essence. Participating in ceremony allows an awakening to what we’ve forgotten: that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience and are naturally wired to be in sacred relationship with all aspects of the Divine, both seen and unseen. In Sacred ceremony waves of Divine energy assist each participant to center and refill their spiritual chalice with vibrant healing and empowering energy.
A typical Sacred Ceremony for both co-ed and gender specific would begin with sequences of rituals to create sacred space. Then the participants would bring in their unique vibrations through chanting and speaking what each carry on their hearts. Next would be the sharing/teaching related to the ceremony’s intention. Then the rituals for releasing, transformation, healing, and empowering would be performed. Once completing the ceremony’s intention, the circle lovingly releases all unseen forces that came to assist the sacred work and support the safety of the container.
Below is brief description of common components and order of a Sacred Goddess Ceremony:
Welcoming is the time for the women to settle in and cover any logistics.
Smudging and Centering The aura of each woman is bathed with either the smoke of burning herbs, the gentle spray of scented water, the vibration of bells or drums, or fanned with a leaf or flower. This ritual is a clearing and centering for everyone to be present in the moment.
The Prayer of Protection includes drawing down the Divine Golden light to surround the circle and create a vortex of protective energetic container to support the Sacred work.
Invocation of Directions entails calling forth the supportive attributes and energies of the four directions and The Divine of the five points of the pentagram (East, South, West, North and Center/Spirit) into the circle. Performed to welcome, honor and acknowledge the valuable wisdom and powers of nature and the Divine unseen energies.
Introduction Ritual is to express an acknowledgment of one’s spirit aspect. Each woman states her name and lights a candle to validate their bright spirits and add their light to the circle.
Speak a version of the Charge of Goddess especially at the Eight Sabbats and Full Moon gatherings to remember what the Goddess/Divine Feminine asks of us, no more - no less.
Declare Intention for the gathering with a statement of focus and purpose.
A “Check-in” makes space for each woman to speak what is on her mind and heart. Consider this a dialog with Spirit/Goddess while the circle lovingly witnesses the conversation before them. The sharing can include concerns, worries, celebrations, etc., then comes to completion with an affirmation or declaration is stated.
Share Teachings of Herstory’s. This can be a poem, story telling, or a sharing of her mysteries aligned with the ceremony’s intention. This creates space to ponder, reflect and awaken the Goddess within.
*Releasing Rituals allows for letting go of what no longer serves; shedding the old to make way for the new. Most releasing rituals would include using the power of an element while speaking what is ready to be released. Fire – flame for transmuting, Water - wash away, Air - call in winds of change, Earth – bury in the soil to transform.
*Gratitude prayer is the acknowledgment of Spirit’s assistance to support looking deep within to discover inner truth.
*Empowering Ritual invokes Divine Inspiration to fill up the space created from the release. This can be a meditation, constructing a symbol of one’s intention, fashioning a spell or declaration of an affirmation, etc.
*Raising the Cone of Energy moves the energies of the ceremony around, then up and out of the circle while releasing all concerns in a final prayer to the cosmos and Divine Source.
Opening the Circle releases all the unseen forces that joined the circle to assist in the Sacred Work. All are named and acknowledged for their presence and released with heartfelt gratitude.
* Add prayers, chants, poems, and movement (spiral dance) as appropriate to keep energy moving.
Rev. April’s esoteric spiritual practice also includes meditation, chanting/drumming, labyrinth journeys, walking meditations. In addition to her Sacred Ceremonial work Rev. April offers Spiritual Counseling, Hawaiian Sacred Touch, and VortexHealing®5.
Ever learning. Ever unfolding. Blessed Be!
Belmessieri, Debbie, Tapping into God. Bloomington In. Balboa Press. 2011 www.balboapress.com
1The Holy Bible , New International Verson. New York, New York International Bible Society, 1978
2 Grokked means to understand thoroughly and intuitively. Dictionary.comUnabridged Random House, Inc. 18 Mar.2011 <Dictionary.com http//dictionary.reference.com/browse/grok>
3 Antonov Dr. Valdimir. The Orginial Teachings of Jesus Christ. Charleston: CreateSpace, 2008 http//teachings-of-jesus-christ.org/
4 Collins English Dictionary –Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 18 Mar.2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pagan>.
5® "VortexHealing" is a registered service mark of Ric Weinman. All rights reserved. Used here with permission.