First Degree Goddess Initiation Essay
Michele of the Dragons 5/27/08

I was a solitary practitioner until just over a year and a half ago when I met the lovely ladies of the Coven of the Goddess. My path to Goddess isn't and hasn't been well defined. There isn't a single moment where I could look back and say "Yes, this is where or how I met her." She was then and is now my beloved Grandmother. Never appearing in the same form, her face always changing, when I called to her it was always Grandmother, and she came with open arms. I was always home in her arms, loved unconditionally, and for those moments safe. For me, she has always been and though I tried to deny her presence during my twenties she was never far away.

In my denial of her, I lost a very sacred piece of myself. Even though I welcomed her back into my life in my thirties, openly practicing despite a negative relationship, I was no longer able to feel her presence daily. She had become so tangled in memories, fears, and shame that it was now a struggle to find comfort. My beloved Grandmother was still in essence gone. I had never worried about sacred space, tools, or rituals in my prior worship. She was, I was, and worship was a daily occurrence requiring no thought, no tools, it just was. I was lost so I went out and bought books.

I bought a lot of books, seeking the correct way to call to her. I had no idea what was wrong but one of those pages held the secret, I was convinced of that. Yet, those pages held no secrets that worked and I could not reach her. They did tell me that there were "right" ways to call to her, using candles, bells, standing in a certain direction, using the right names, creating sacred space, and not one of them agreed upon what was right. So, I went out and bought tools; candles, drums, feathers, statues, pictures, crystals, bells, and damned if I still wasn't just as lost, not able to reach her arms. I had her altar, it faced the East, and I called to her at times of the month correlating with the moon, still no connection. Why? Where was I going so wrong? Was it possible that I was indeed as unworthy of her love as I believed?

Unworthy, when had I started to believe that I was unworthy of her love? I knew that I wasn't worthy of being loved by any one person. I was too contaminated by the actions of this life, right? Who was I to believe that my children were right in their love and hadn't the men I had chosen confirmed how flawed I was. I had tried to conform earning their love and approval just as I had for my mother as a child. I had tucked away my creativity, my laughter, my worship, all of those pieces were removed, how could I still be so lacking? What more could I possibly give away to earn the love that I sought? Or, was I really looking to wash away the filth that I felt covered in? I just didn't know any more.

Slowly, I realized that I was unhappy. I didn't like my life, I didn't like the example I had given to my girls about relationships, I was unhappily married, no dirt, no Goddess, life sucked. As a child I had found joy in living and in that joy she was there. Scrapes, bruises, heartaches, none of these things took away from the fun of living. There was always a rainbow, a moment of purity to be found around the next corner. Perhaps, if I found the courage to just live, I would find her again and maybe even myself. It was that decision, which started my path anew almost 5 years ago. That decision which I implemented, that led me to the Coven of the Goddess and brought me back to myself.

I kept all of the books that I had bought, reading now for growth, not for the secret way. I kept tools that I enjoyed and started to use them as it felt right to me, and I started to look deeply into myself seeking out the dark nooks and crannies. I belly danced to reclaim my sexuality, I dug in the dirt to connect with mother, and I lived each day as fully as I could. I still didn't feel her every day but I knew that this would change and I was finally on my path. I started to participate in an online pagan sewing group where April Enchanted mentioned the coven and I knew that this was important to me, for me. I joined the online group where I lurked, watching your interactions, struggling with my inner demons still, waiting for that "sign". Until one day, I stopped waiting and asked for help. Silver, Sif, and Stella/Journey all answered my call and while their words were loving, each one kicked me in the butt in their own way, especially Stella/Journey. So, I came to her healing class and now here I am an initiate to this coven.

Over the last year and a half I have grown as a person. I have come to call myself a witch but I must admit that I consider myself Goddess pagan. I take pride in knowing I am who I am, my gifts are my own, and that I am still a beloved daughter of Grandmother/Goddess. At home, I now practice with a combination of remembered ways from my childhood and ritual. I honor Goddess and her male consort here, seeking that balance of male and female in my life. There are small altars scattered throughout my home and I do not hide my spiritual beliefs. I am in a sense whole, growing, changing, and evolving into the woman that I am, that I was meant to be.

When I asked to dedicate to coven, I took a great deal of time to think about what that would mean to myself and to the women who would become my sisters. I needed to be sure that I was doing this for myself and that I could honor the differences in the coven structure in comparison to being a solitary. It was important that I know the reason Goddess is celebrated the way that she is in coven, the need to explore her different sides, work with her in her various names, and to be able to fully embrace the ritual used to call to her during full moon. Having led a life where choices were made for the approval of others, this choice needed to be only for me, and I needed to be able to live it fully. I met with Journey in July 07 to seek permission from her and the elders to join this group of sisters. This decision has not been one that I have regretted and I was honored to be able to start my path as an initiate.

The months following that decision have been interesting. I had felt that my faith was deep but now I realize that faith is a living thing that needs to be practiced daily; that you can "work on it" to death but until you live it, it isn't going to do you any good at all. The Goddess, grandmother, how she speaks; in my dreams, during the days, nudges through songs or conversations, she is never quiet. It would be nice though if on occasion instead of letting me learn the hard way, she just took me by the hand and guided me gently through any obstacle. Not every time, mind you, just once in a while. When I piss and moan to her about this, she is her most gentle and always with the greatest love and a hint of laughter, she reminds me that the way to learn is chosen by me and if I truly wish to have it easier, I will take that in to consideration as I face these challenges. Someday I will make better choices and the lessons will be filled with more laughter than pain, someday.

I had never worked with Goddess as a trinity until coven. She was Grandmother and though she came to me with many faces, young and old, I never looked upon her as maiden, mother, and crone. It retrospect, I see why we worship her this way in coven. We each carry these pieces through our lives, first as the maiden, then as the mother, until finally we become the crone. These phases of our lives correlate to her and our relationship with her. It is through the unabashed enthusiasm of maiden that my heart "sees" her; it is with the unconditional manner of mother that gives me the ability to "trust" in her, and the wisdom of the crone to "know" her. Initially, as I started to bring her back into my life, I wore a Goddess pendant. Now, I wear no jewelry on a daily basis as the tattoo on my right wrist has become my greatest link to her. I did not understand why I chose the symbol for beloved, but I am her beloved daughter and I know that now.

I have struggled with the elements these last months. They had held no importance to me other than a brief acknowledgement as an elder to be respected. I fed them as a solitary but I did not look to them at all for their help or wisdom. This changed for during the full moon ritual that I wrote. No longer were they just a direction, they became entities of themselves, children of Goddess, and I know that my work with them has just begun.

Earth: I have had a relationship with Earth; growing things in the dirt, touching it, being a part of its life force and cycle, came naturally. I have always fed her, respected and honored her as the one who provides all life sustaining needs for us here but I hadn't been aware of her. To me she is the deep greens of living matter and I grieve when she is barren and brown.

Air: I have seen in the past as male, the God Mercury; passing through quickly, stirring up trouble, and just disappearing as things get really interesting leaving me to hold the bag and clean up the mess. I am working to know her from the feminine point of view. I still find her to be impulsive, slightly destructive but a warm presence bringing mental change. She is quite elusive, dancing through my meditations, but stimulating growth all the same. When she dances through, she comes in the palest yellows with the barest hint of green burning away old ides and bringing growth with her.

Fire: As we all know, I have quite the affinity for fire and she tempers all things for me. Wild, passionate, ferocious, she was most denied the years that I struggled to be normal. Her voice as an individual I hear most often and currently she is happily banked, keeping my home/tribe fires burning steadily instead of wildly out of control. Red is her color and she burns with an abiding passion for life.

Water: Water has not been one of my favorites. I have associated her in the past with the weakness of being female. The ability to be pushed to and fro, no mind of her own, a victim of her environment. Now I see that she moves through life with great purpose, slowly changing, adapting her environment to her needs. Sometimes she is harsh and quick in those changes but most times she molds from within, eroding old paths, and creating new. Blue is her color in all of its shades, swirled together a constant study of motion and change.

Sacred space was another area that I had much to learn about. As a solitary I felt and still feel that I carry my sacred space with me wherever I go. I didn't feel the need to set a definite space or ritual to have the sanctity of sacred space. It was a little hard for me to realize that not every person could bring that with much less access it at will. It was even harder to realize that sacred space could not be felt unless a specific and set ritual was in place for some members. It was after experiencing my first full moon in April of 07 that I was able to understand that ritual was a way to gather a collective energy of all there and channel it in such a manner that the greatest good could be accomplished for everyone. Now I rejoice in the moments that lead up to the building of circle and the calling of the watchtowers. It is at those moments that I feel most connected to my sisters and the Goddess that we are working with that night.

Creating my full moon ritual for May of this year was an incredible point of growth for me. As used to I am running life on my own terms and seeing Goddess/Grandmother in the ways that I do, it became very important to me to mix my past with the traditions of this coven. My Goddess for both the ritual and new moon class had been so very demanding and it took quite a bit of research, meditation, and sheer work to bring my vision of ritual together with the coven's vision of sacred space. I believe that I was able to honor all in the ritual even though there were a few changes. I was thrilled to be able to have the circle cut with my staff. I have not worked with a sword as a tool yet so it held great meaning for me. It was thrilling to have the guardians called in our traditional manner and also to welcome them with an offering of tobacco. It held such meaning for me to bring the old in to the new and to share that with those that I have such respect for. I can truly say that as a solitary I have never raised the energy that was raised that night. It was only through the formality of cutting circle and creating the sacred space together that such a pure energy was raised and shared.

All of this leads me to the tools of a witch. Personally I use a staff, an athame, a smaller knife, crystals, candles, 2 cauldrons, 2 shells, incense, and a small plastic cauldron for sacred spell water. Each tool has been found by me or given to me as a gift. They all have there place upon my altar which is set up with 3 sets of candles representing, mother, maiden, and crone, as well as Grandmother, and my dragons that I look to for guidance. Having tried to make Goddess speak to me by having all of the right pieces, the right words, in the right way, I have come to understand that tools do not a witch make but a witch makes her own tools.

Staff: This is a personal favorite of mine to work with. I love the feel of the wood under my fingers; it reminds me of earth and fire as well as air. It cuts cleanly through space creating a definitive line in its wake.

Sword: I have only touched and used the sword that belongs to coven. It carries an incredible amount of energy within it and a sense of honor as well. It is used to channel the will and energy of the entire coven during ritual.

Wand: Again, I only familiar with the wand of coven but I do have a piece of grapevine that has called to me and I am waiting to see if her form is destined to become my wand. This tool can be used to call in energy from a specific direction and is related to air. Utilizing crystals can help direct and purify its energies.

Cauldron: I have 2 and I use them to burn incense and cast at the same time. I don't always use both but I do alternate between them for harmony within. The cauldron is a representative of the Goddess and her great mysteries. To me they appear womblike and endless in their wisdom.

Athame: My athame is very small as I have used it only to cut pentacles or write spells in candles. It is related to fire and as I grow I have come to use it more. On occasion, I will use it to cut a pentacle in the air to call directly to a guardian I am seeking wisdom from.

Boline: My boline matches my athame only smaller. I use it to cut herbs, ribbons, stir the incense as it burns, and mix salt with dirt. It is an all purpose tool for daily activity.

Chalice: I don't use a chalice in my worship but I am aware that it is used to represent the womb of Goddess. Related to water, it helps unite participants with Goddess during ritual.

Cord: My cord was created with the coven and holds the energy of all of us gathered that evening. To me it is a bond and covenant to all of my sisters and I use it to draw on the untied energy of our coven.

Prayer beads: My beads are not a typical tool but having seen them in a dream and then sharing them with my sisters, they are always accessible to me. They serve as a direct line to Goddess and when I hold the centerpiece I know that I am always home with her.

Witch's robe: A robe is used as a way to humble oneself before Goddess. I personally do not use one at this time but I have had dreams of one that I will eventually craft.

Incense: Incense represents air and fire. I use it on my altar and throughout my home to call upon Goddess, cleanse my spirit, or to create energy when mine is flagging.

Tobacco: I use tobacco to burn as an offering to Goddess or to the guardians. It has served as a sign of respect for as long back as I can remember.

Pentacle: This is a five pointed star that represents our craft. It is a tool associated with the earth but it is also one that I do not use much. Typically I will use it to connect to a guardian or with coven creating sacred space. I respect that it holds great power and meaning for the Goddess but it isn't one that calls to me. I am much more inclined to the triskele, triquetra, or dragons as a form of communication beyond the veil.

Book of Shadows: This is a new tool for me. I started with 1 3 ring binder but have expanded it to 3. This doesn't mean that it is filled but as I have gotten more comfortable using it, I realized that I needed to reorganize it in a different manner. I am still struggling with writing down spells, meditations, or chakra clearings. I never used to document any of these things before, so this presents a challenge for me.

Bell: This is a symbol of air and can be used to create positive energy or ward off negative spirits. I don't use this one currently as I have yet to find a bell that I like the tone of.

Broom: This is used to sweep away negative energy and is used to prep an area for ritual. I do not use on in my home but I do use this with coven during the creation of sacred space.

Sage: I use this herb a great deal. I use it to clear negativity, prepare for the changing season; open up space to the spell work I am about to start on, and to freshen personal space. It is also used to clear away any negativity of the participants of ritual prior to entering circle.

I am who I am and my gifts are my own. I am looking forward to the challenges I have yet to face and the growth to come. This is my path and I am honored that Goddess has spoken so strongly to me. I am ready, willing, and capable of carrying on her teachings.

I am Michele, beloved of Goddess, these are my beliefs, and this is my path. I am Goddess pagan, a witch, and a woman in my own right. I have earned this.