First Degree Goddess Initiation Essay
Phoenix Blackfox 10/4/08

Like many others, I have been on this path for all of my life, I just wasn't able to put an actual name to it until about 12 years ago. I was baptized Lutheran and both sides of my family went to church religiously, my Dad's side being Lutheran and my Mom's side non denominational. It was actually a little strange growing up because my Dad's side was very strict, Lutheran, God fearing Christians, and then my Mom's side was easy going, very much into God but very open minded. My Grandpa on my Dad's side played the organ for his church and both he and my Grandma were very involved.
From the time I was a little girl, I never felt comfortable in a church. My Great Grandmother on my Mom's side was a full blooded Cherokee Indian and I always felt a connection to that part of my heritage. The more I learned about it, the more it made sense to me. I had always heard that in order for God to hear your prayers, you must go to church. In order to worship God, you must go to church. Even at a very young age, I kept thinking that the Native Americans didn't have to go into a building to pray or to worship Spirit. They were out in nature. Spirit was everywhere so why did you HAVE to go into a building? That's all church was to me at that age. It was only a building where people would gather to worship God.
My family on my Dad's side was also very bigoted. I remember hearing my family say that homosexuals were sinners and that they would go to Hell just for their sexual preferences. Again, it didn't make sense to me. God was about love, forgiveness, and acceptance. How could he feel that way about his children? I decided that I didn't like that God. Whenever I heard anyone say anything like that, I would just reply with "the God I believe in doesn't feel that way. The God I believe in loves everyone no matter what. " I also remember going into church and literally getting an upset stomach every time I went in the building. I was just not comfortable in the building itself or what I was being taught. None of it made sense to me so I started learning even more about my Native American heritage since I felt so pulled to it. Everything felt so right about it. I had always felt comfortable in nature and felt a connection to it. I saw the beauty in everything and felt like an outside because my family and friends didn't feel the same way. The books answered all of my questions. The more I read, the more at home I felt. The more at home I felt, the more reading and learning I wanted to do.
My Mom's side of the family also had a lot of paranormal experiences so at an early age, I was exposed to it. My family didn't try to hide it. They were very honest with me about it. They also weren't afraid of the experiences. My Grandma on my Mom's side went to see a psychic advisor every month until just a few years ago when he passed away. He was her church pastor. Since he passed away, my Grandma now sees his wife as her psychic advisor.
Growing up with families that had 2 different views was both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I was able to see 2 very different belief systems and make my own choice of what fit me best. On the other hand, it also confused me at times. While I felt that the Native American beliefs were the right ones for me, I also felt a lot of guilt of "what if I'm wrong? If I'm wrong, God will not love me. I'll go to Hell."
Eventually, I started to expand my reading into witchcraft. I felt a pull to it as well and was quite surprised to find that it was very similar to my beliefs at the time. After all, I was also told as a child that witchcraft was evil. I started trying to live more in tune with Spirit again….to notice the beauty in everything around me again. I didn't really do a whole lot of spells because I was afraid. I didn't want to make a mistake and have it come back on me in a negative way. It was in my reading about witchcraft that I discovered Goddess. It had never occurred to me that there were actually Goddesses. I had only heard about God. But again…it seemed right to me. After all, we are either male or female. Why wouldn't there be a God AND a Goddess? Again, it made sense.
My studies and practices were very sporadic over the years, so I really didn't get out of it what I should have. My struggles with my Christian teachings still haunted me so I would put my practice on the back burner, and then after awhile, I would pick it back up. Then somewhere along the line, I lost myself, not just in my faith, but in everything. I didn't know who I was any longer. The person that I was before I got married and had kids had disappeared. While I still had my beliefs, I didn't really practice it. I started judging people which is something that I didn't do growing up. I just let people be themselves and accepted them. I'm not really sure when I lost me, but I didn't like what I had become. When you can't accept yourself, you can't easily accept others. I tried to practice my craft because I knew that I needed to. I wanted to practice, but I just couldn't find the motivation in order to do so.
When I found the Coven and my sisters, my eyes were opened again. That spark was lit inside of me. It was also the butt kicking that I so desperately needed. I needed more structure than what I've had in the past. When I was a solitary, it was so easy to not engage in my practice because of whatever reason I used at the time. Too tired, too busy, just didn't feel like it. I needed, and still need, the structure and guidance in order to get back to what I wanted/want to be….more loving, more accepting, not only of others, but of myself. It's been quite difficult for me to remember that I am part of Goddess and that She is a part of me. That I don't have to look only outward to find what I am seeking, but to also look inward. I now see the beauty everyday that surrounds me, but I still struggle with the beauty I see in myself. I have to constantly remind myself that I am beautiful in every way and that I am Goddess. Since finding Goddess, I have found my voice. I have learned to not let anyone walk all over me. I used to do things for my family just to make them happy, making me incredibly miserable in the process. I no longer do that. I no longer do things just because I'm afraid that I won't be liked if I don't. I do things because I want to do them. I thank Goddess that I have found where I'm supposed to be spiritually. I still have to remind myself every day that I am Goddess and I still have a long way to go, but I am worth it. I am making myself a better mother to my children, a better wife, and a better me. I appreciate every minute of Her guidance and support. Through Her, I can find the guidance and support within me as well. I am proud to be part of Goddess.

I have learned so much about Goddess. I have learned that Goddess is beauty in everything, even the hardships that I endure. There are true lessons to be learned from in the hardships. There are reasons for everything. I never really worked with the different aspects of Her until I joined the Coven but what I have learned of each aspect is what each of us goes through as women. She is us and we are her. As Maiden, she is the joy in everyday life. She sees the good in everything and is not afraid of making a fool out of herself. She has an endearing child-like quality about her and still has so much to learn about life. As Mother, she has learned to be careful about what she does and who she does them for. She loves unconditionally and will do anything for you, her child. She is emotionally and physically nourishing. As Crone, she is exceedingly wise. She can see through you and your motives even if you cannot see it for yourself. She knows you better than you know yourself and will tell you to your face that she sees through your bs. She holds nothing back and stands true in herself. Goddess is the fresh morning breeze, the tremendous heat in the mid afternoon and the cool evening air with the stars and moon shining above. She is everything, good and bad.

I have been keenly aware of the elements ever since I can remember. Even as a child I would notice the beauty in every element, even though I didn't really know them as elements at the time. Separately, the elements are incredible in themselves, but without each other, each can get completely out of control. It's important to have all elements to keep a true balance.
Air - Air is the gentle kiss of the wind on my face. She is my creative force, my muse. She is like the Maiden in that she is carefree and happy. She is the dancing yellow meadow in the early hours of the morning. She is smiles from ear to ear and sings a happy tune. She knows she has some things to do and she does them when the time is right for her. She glides with the gentle breeze and could easily join the birds in the winds.
Fire - Fire is heat, strength and will. She is force, desire and demanding. She stands in the middle of a hot, burning fire demanding her wants and her needs. She will not take no for an answer. She is stubborn and willful and her forces can be too great if she is allowed to get out of control for her passions can take her too far. If you tend to her needs, she is not as forceful but will not waver from what she wants or needs.
Water - She is a gentle strength, caring and loving. She is the caretaker. She effortlessly flows with the gentle movement of the waters. The waves caress you and cradle you letting you know that you are loved and that she can give you what you want and need. She helps you "go with the flow" and just allow things to be. She is the gentle knowing of what is. She is where you go when you are hurt, physically or emotionally. She knows how you feel and just in her knowing, your emotions are eased.
Earth - She is strong, bold, and sturdy. She does not waiver for she stands grounded in her knowledge and beliefs. She stands in the middle of a deep green forest, blending into her surroundings of lushness and life. She is the core essence of it all. Plants are rooted in her being and they get their start from her. She is the beginning and the end. She is rebirth with the changing of her seasons. She is strong in her opinions and will not waiver from them and she will patiently listen to your opinions.

Sacred Space
Sacred space is about protection and about the collection of energy. It is something that I actually practiced as a solitary but didn't feel as much need to do so because I have a room that is dedicated to my magical workings. My room is my sacred space. The minute I walk through that door that is my cue to myself to de-stress, to release every tension that I have. Of course, that is not always possible as some days are better than others. I can feel when my space is to negative and then I will smudge myself and my entire room. Sometimes it takes awhile to build up and sometimes it's something I have to do every time. No one in my family enters my room and the door stays closed so usually the only energy is mine. Again, when I feel like it needs it, I cleanse it. This is just for when I go to meditate. If I am going to be working magic, I will always cleanse the room and ground myself to be sure that the energy collected in my room is as negative free as possible so that the energy from my magic meets its fullest potential. It is definitely important to me because I if I feel any negative energy, I physically feel it. Sometimes I really have to cleanse a lot in order to get rid of it all but it is so worth it. I also don't always cast circle at home, because to me, the walls of my room are the circle, however, if I'm going to do some big magic, I will cast circle to ensure extra protection. I haven't worked any magic outside at home yet, but I will definitely cast circle them to define my sacred space. As a child I thought that a church was just a building for the worship of God but now that I'm older I realize that it is also sacred space. A place specific for the worship of God and to collect the energies of the Church-goers to aid them.

The 4 Pillars
Growth is part of life. I want to grow so I can be the best me that I can be. I'm not looking for perfection, because I don't believe that it exists. One way to grow is to continue to learn. You can learn from studying things that interest you, by going out of your comfort zone, or even by mistakes that you have made or that others have made. It is important to learn from life's experiences because it can make the journey so much easier that it has to be. If you don't learn from mistakes, then you continue to make the same mistake over and over again. The only way to quit doing it is to realize and accept what you are doing and make changes to correct it. This realization and acceptance is part of growth. To be able to honestly recognize the things about you that you want or need to change and to do something about it. I started coming to circle because I needed to get out of my comfort zone. I am quite the hermit and it can get pretty lonely. By coming to circle and then dedicating, it has been a huge part of my growth as a person. I have learned that it's ok to trust again and I have found some wonderful friends in the process. With making these friends, I have discovered that I love helping them during their time of growth as well. I love to be supportive and even if I don't say a word and just lend a shoulder to cry on, that it is helping them in a way that it needed at the time. We are all in Coven to grow in one way or another. We should help our sisters in their growing process. If they need encouragement, a kick in the rear, advice, we should be there for them. There are different ways of helping our sisters as it depends on what is needed at the time. By helping our sisters grow, we grow not only as individuals, but as a Coven. We all need to be there for each other.
Balance is truly a struggle for me but it is most needed in my life. You have to have balance in your life because if you don't, chaos ensues. For such a long time, I have put everyone else's needs before my own. As a mother, I think this is pretty common to do but I also think that it can be a huge mistake. For me, I ended up losing myself as a person. I forgot who I was because I didn't put more time and effort into the things that I loved. Don't get me wrong, I ADORE my family and I would do anything for them, but I wish I would have taken just 10 minutes a day for me. Just a little time so I wouldn't forget who I was or what I was about. My chaos was trying to find myself again which put my family in turmoil because I became extremely depressed and just kind of stopped. I now know that I have to have time just for me and that is my spiritual practice. I also believe that with only having the mundane world and not having your spiritual practice, ANY spiritual practice, that our lives can become unbalanced as well. Without that spiritual part of our lives, we can easily fail to see the beauty in things around us when we need them the most, in our darkest times. Negative feeds negative so you have to have the positive for that balance. This is what my spirituality is for me. When I am going through a hard time, I try to see the positive of the situation. Goddess helps me do that. Without balance, you will fall. It is the same in Coven. We are all so different in the way that we do things and the way we see things that I think we need to find a balance in order for the Coven to work as a whole. Being respectful of others beliefs is one way of doing this. If we can be respectful of not only our sisters, but their beliefs systems as well, we learn more about other paths. I truly think by knowing other paths and respecting them, this brings balance into our lives and into Coven because we are better rounded. We don't have to follow other paths, just knowing and accepting is growth in itself. Of course, there are times when balance needs to be worked on, and that is ok. Again, if we don't have balance as a Coven, then there will be chaos.
This is something that is extremely important to me. I try to take responsibility for everything that I do. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you messed up. Own your choices and your actions. If we cannot own our choices and the results of our actions, we cannot learn from our mistakes, and in turn, we do not grow as people. Mistakes get made because we are human and humans are not perfect. I realize that it can be difficult to sometimes see that mistake. Sometimes we need a gentle push or a kick in the rear from our friends to help point it out, and once that is done, we can try to accept it and learn from it. In Coven, we have to take responsibility for what we do within our structure and the assignments that we have. If we do not, the structure of the Coven will fall apart, and quite frankly, if I don't take my responsibilities seriously in Coven, then I have to ask myself why I am here. I dedicated because I wanted to grow and learn and if I just discard my responsibilities then I am not accomplishing my goal.
Unity is something that I haven't really had in my life until I started coming to circle. I was a loner for such a long time and I was afraid to put myself out there and trust people again. I've had so many bad relationships and have been taken advantage of by so many. My beliefs were looked upon as weird and I have been considered different from others in my life that I thought it was easier to shut down rather than to keep trying. I didn't really realize what I was missing until I started coming to circle. I received support from my family but I can't say as I experienced unity. I have that now and it is so very important to me. After a bad day, I can just think of my sisters and know that they are there for me. With unity comes strength and with my sisters, I am strong. I know I am loved and supported by my family, but there is something to be said to have the camaraderie and unity of my wonderful sisters. In Coven, we are all here for different reasons, but the unity we have of Goddess Herself is what makes us a strong Coven. When we come together in ritual, we are very strong and powerful women. It's that unity that makes us powerful. We need that unity not only on a magical level to help us achieve our goals, but on a personal level too, to help us obtain that strength within us. The stronger we are as women, the stronger magic we can do together. The opposite is true as well. The stronger we are together, the stronger we are separately.

First and foremost, the tools do not make the witch, the witch makes the tools. Personally, I do not believe tools are required. The only things required are intent, belief and will. Tools are just a way to help you focus your energy easier. I hope to be able to get to a point where I no longer need some my tools but as of this moment, they help me to "switch gears" and focus my energy and will.
The Pentacle is a representation of the 5 elements, Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit. The circle around it connects them all. The Pentacle is extremely important to me. I wear one on a necklace every day. This is my reminder that I am of Goddess. I also have a large wooden disc with a pentacle on it. It sits in the center of my altar and when I perform a ritual, the main objects that I use are placed on the pentacle. This could be a candle specifically used for a particular meditation, or candles with the wordings of a spell placed on it. It is the concentration of the energy in one place to help the spell be a success. I also like to think of it as a special delivery to Goddess.
The wand is a tool in which to direct energy. My wand is from a fallen branch. It has a crystal on the end of it, some leather wrapped around it at the top, middle and bottom, and a couple of feathers hanging from it. It is very shamanic looking. I do not use it often, but when I do, I use it to direct Air energies. My wand has a very gentle feel to it. I see the wand as an air tool as it is made from a tree branch and tree branches sway in the breeze.
An athame is a tool used to direct energy, cut, or inscribe items in your workings. I actually have a ritual athame and a working knife. I use my athame to direct energy and my working knife is used to carve candles, cut strings, and whatever else I may need the knife for. My working knife actually started out as my athame, however, it was not happy directing energy. He needed to do more so I started using him as a working knife and looked for another athame to fit my needs. Both of them hold a lot of energy. Whenever I pick one up, I feel the energy flowing from them and I feel their happiness.
The chalice is a representation of the womb, what holds the water of life. When we are drinking from the chalice, we are drinking of the womb, taking in of ourselves…of Goddess. I do have a chalice, however I only use it when a ritual/spell requires it. I made sure to find one that really resonated with me. It is made of pewter and had a Celtic symbol on it.
My cord from the coven has grown to be a very special tool for me. It is a cord of magic that connects me to my sisters. I like to wear it as a necklace when I meditate or when I perform a ritual or spell at home so I can feel my sisters near me. When I am with my sisters in ritual, I wear it as a belt.
Witch's Robe
I adore my robe. My robe helps me to switch gears from the mundane world to the magical world. I usually only wear it during rituals only or if it is for a spell, only if I feel the need for it.
Cauldrons are another representation of the womb, or of Goddess. I actually have 2 cauldrons. One I use for burning incense with charcoal or for burning paper. The other is a very large one that I would like to use for large rituals outside. Right now I just like the aesthetic appeal.
I have a small cauldron that I sue for a censor and I also have an incense holder that holds stick incense. When I am meditating, I love to use incense as the smell really helps me to relax and feel magical. It helps me get my head to where it needs to be for my workings. It's an extremely important tool for me.
Besoms help clear the space that will be used for magical workings. Much like a regular broom, they sweep up the dirt and debris in the area so your space is neat. A besome removes negative energy to clear your space. I have a very lovely besom that I absolutely adore. It was made by a Native American and it has a wonderful knot in the handle that gives it so much character. My besom does get used but not very often as my magical room very rarely needs to be cleansed. I am the only one with access to it and I make sure that I carry little to no negative energy with me as it is my retreat. Besoms also bring luck into a home. I would like to make a new besom to hang over my front door for luck.
Like athames, swords are used to direct energy. Like coven, I use my sword to cut circle for a ritual. I have only had my sword for about a year. When I saw it, I KNEW it was for me. I won it in a raffle and I had only purchased one raffle ticket. I was meant for me. There is so much energy in this sword. It's absolutely incredible.
Feathers can be used in many ways, but I use my feathers to help cleans my space. I created a fan using a few feathers and I wrapped them with leather and decorated it. I sweep the incense/sage smoke around my circle with my feather fan to make sure that the incense reaches all of the places to cleanse. It is very special to me because I made it.
Sage is an herb used for cleansing space, tools, or any object that needs to be cleansed. It is a very important tool for me. I use it to cleanse my space, to cleanse my tools when they need it, or to cleanse a new object that I purchased for ritual. The smell of sage helps me relax and feel magical so I may continue with my workings. If I feel my space needs a light cleansing, I will use incense, but when it needs a really good cleaning, I will use my sage.
Prayer Beads
My prayer beads are a new tool for me and I truly have a strong connection with them. They help me to keep track counting during meditations. I never knew how they could be used until our class on them and they have become a very important tool of mine.
Goddess Book
This tool is relatively new to me but I have become to adore it. They are her messages to me, my prayers and poems to Her. I don't write in it like I should because I don't always think of it when the moments happen. This is something that I am trying to become better at. I like reading them when I am feeling down as they help me feel connected to her again. They remind me that we are one.
Book of Shadows
My Book of Shadows is a large, leather bound book that I bought online. It was another one of those things that yelled at me when I first saw it so I knew that I had to have it. I work on filling it up when I can. The pages are very large and they are bound.I like to be able to move my pages around so I bought clear photos corners that I put on the pages. I then use my computer to make a page and then put that normal size page on the BOS page using the corners. I then decorate around the normal size page to take up the space that is around it. This makes it very interesting to me. I would love for my BOS to be handed down from generation to generation. I put a lot of work into it when I can and it is one of my most prized possessions.

Sacred Space was created for initiation using traditional Coven words. Quarter calls and Goddess invocation were spoken as from the heart and and included all that was necessary to show Phoenix capable of leadershio in casting Circle, Journey