Ritual of Love ~ The Way of the Goddess
by Sophia Breillat
Re-membering by Kim Kitchen
Ancient matriarchal cultures worshipped the earth as a Goddess, deeply honouring their ‘Great Mother’ for her awesome powers of birth, death and renewal.
The inhabitants of these early cultures were awed by the vastness of the earth’s all-encompassing mystery, revering her as deeply feminine and eternally wise. Her consciousness was perceived as a sensually alive paradise, where mountains, caves and valleys sheltered and sustained pagan Gods and Goddesses. Through the sacred intimacy of ritualistic practices, gratitude was bestowed to nature through an innately divine connection with the benevolent love of this powerful Goddess.
Direct experience of the Goddess’s power through rituals in her honour was embodied during seasonal solstices and equinoxes and festivals of sexual love, birth and renewal. Offering comfort and protection in times of uncertainty and danger, her devoted Priestesses were also the custodians and dispensers of the first medicines and healing potions. The abundant wellspring of the Goddess’s fruitful body was a source of life-giving waters, nutrient rich soil and nourishing plants. Through the humbling simplicity of ritual, she was regularly honoured for her overflowing fertility and creative power. This practice has enabled many cultures to be sustained through a profound connection with nature, where the life energy of the Goddess was always intuited behind every ritual, every mystery, every miracle.
The men and women of earlier civilisations found new strength, replenishment and purpose through blessing the awakening of spring and the fruition of the harvest. The early pagans, known as earth dwellers or people of the earth, wore green in ritualistic ceremonies, symbolically encouraging Mother Nature to drape her body in this colour of abundant crops. Christian authorities’ strong opposition to these pagan traditions later created the superstition that green is unlucky. They also feared this colour because of its association with the open sexuality of these old rituals. Creating humility and reverence for all of life, these ceremonies had long affirmed inner qualities of grace, faith and joy for pagan earth dwellers.
Through abandoning the earth, modern civilisation has abandoned the sacredness of the bountiful Goddess and her rituals. The contemporary patriarchal intellect perceives these rituals as primitive, ignorant and unnecessary. This misconception suppresses their profound capacity for reminding us of a deeper, more intimate part of the psyche that the world would rather not acknowledge. Through embracing our sacred connection with the earth, we spontaneously open to the powerful humility of ritual.
RITUALS OF REBIRTH
The initiation rites of early matriarchies often featured a descent into the darkness of an underground tunnel, labyrinth or cave where a solitary journey was symbolically made into the center of the earth. This labyrinth or passage cut deeply into the moist richness of the Earth Goddess’s womb caverns. These underworld realms frequently featured in ancient mythology as potent symbols of creative female power.
After a period of ritual and meditation, the Earth Goddess’s initiates emerged purified, strengthened and reborn from the body and womb of The Mother. This profound ritualistic experience of inner transformation has always been deeply connected to the flowing cycles of the Goddess, evoking great fear as well as courage.
This Universal Mother spiritually embraces woman’s mysterious capacity to die, renew and replenish with the phases of the moon. Her presence dwells eternally in the heart of every woman, and every man born of woman. Denial of her nurturing power creates a deep fear of love, sexuality and death.
The immortal womb of Mother Earth was revered for her unfathomable ability to graciously bring forth new life and receive the dead through her endless cycles of rebirth.
Ritualistic reverence for her bountiful gifts of birth, death and renewal has nourished pagan civilisations since ancient times. Why then is her awesome presence so very threatening to contemporary civilisation? Why is the modern world so afraid of revealing the power of her love and truth?
WOMAN AND RITUAL
The ignorance and fear that rule the patriarchal system have suppressed the intimate inner reality of woman and her devotional love of the Goddess. Her sacred rites and rituals have been destroyed and dishonoured by an insatiable greed and gross misuse of power that denies her very existence. For thousands of years, every moment of a woman’s life was a spiritual act of homage to the Goddess.
Lovemaking, pregnancy and birthing are rituals of transformation that potentially open her heart in a way that is truly divine, magical and mysterious. Through the rites of passage of menarche and menopause, she becomes more whole, more powerful, more female and more mature. To her, every moment of ritual is an acknowledgement of the vast love and mystery of her Goddess within.
The priestesses of the Goddess were the original astronomers and astrologers. Known as moon watchers, their rituals accurately divined the most auspicious moments for conception, birth, planting and harvesting. Goddess rituals involved gathering herbs, flowers and beautiful objects, saying prayers, making sacrifices and devotional preparation of yonic shrines and altars. These ancient feminine practices were later negatively labeled as witchcraft.
The contemporary world, thriving upon separation, is particularly separated from the loving intimacy of the powerful Earth Mother residing within the heart of every woman. Ritual is essentially a part of a fully passionate life lived in communion with the earth. It cannot be practised as an intellectual idea or an isolated act, for it is fully of the heart, of the whole, of the spirit. The pure essence of ritual can only flow through being totally with the moment, the heart, the earth.
The gentle kindness of nurturing feminine religious rites has flourished for centuries within many cultures that balanced harmoniously with the Earth Goddess’s natural rhythms. Sites of ritual Goddess worship were sensitively aligned with powerful energetic areas of the earth, usually within the deep quiet stillness of woodland shrines, womblike caverns, secluded glades and secret grottoes. These holy womb grottoes and genital shrines were usually the source of hot bubbling springs, cascading waterfalls and ancient wells offering the sensual healing balm of the Earth Goddess’s life-giving waters.
Women were always the natural guardians of such places. Yonic caves and groves were the most prolific uterine symbols of ancient Goddess worship. A large pillar, tree or obelisk set within a grove represented the male God being received by the Goddess. The sensitive healing flow of many of her dancing streams and rivers is now stagnant, polluted and very much in need of being healed. The cool moist refuge of many of her fertile forests has now turned to dust.
Sophia (Roslyne Sophia Breillat) was a woman who lived, wrote and painted from the heart. The inner richness and profound healing of her life experiences were inspiration for her flowing creativity. Her articles and art embrace the beauty, power and sensuality of the feminine essence and celebrate the natural flow of woman’s transformational cycles.
Sophia’s training and experience included primal therapy, intuitive massage, reconnective healing, writing, art and design, astrological counselling, instructional skills, training program design and teaching within the Aboriginal community. She also facilitated many creative and inspiring workshops and courses.