This weekend I ran my first Earth Spirals workshop – Enriching Activism with the Sacred Feminine. And it was beautiful.
I wanted to bring a group of women together to forge connections in sisterhood, to empower and support each other. I also wanted it to be very accessible to people who perhaps have little or no experience of Paganism in practice, to share the idea that the Earth is sacred and intrinsically valuable, and that the living image of the Earth as Goddess is one way of tapping into the vast network of the interconnected world we live in and feeling oneself part of the whole.
Why women? Why the sacred feminine in particular? The answer to this is twofold. Firstly there is all that I spoke about in my last post. An understanding of an immanent Goddess who is the earth itself and who is embodied in all things, is a worldview that naturally resonates with those defending the wild places, and provides a spiritual element to add resilience to the vital work of earth activism. People look after the earth when they have a relationship with it that is not one of separation, but inclusion.
Secondly, the earth needs the expertise and participation of women in conservation efforts. My Masters degree dissertation centred on how deliberately including women in the planning and enactment of conservation projects leads to better outcomes. More on that in another post…
As a Priestess of Brighid in training, naturally I chose to work with the transforming power of Brighid as the embodiment of the sacred feminine. She, as the ancient Celtic triple Goddess of inspiration, healing and smithcraft, Goddess of fire and water, traditionally guardian of the land, voice for the voiceless, and protective mother of all, has a perfect energy for this type of work.
We had the use of a lovely, light airy workshop space in London which, as a happy bonus, turned out to have fantastic chanting acoustics and ample space to make tea. What more could we ask for?
Opening sacred space in the Avalonian Goddess tradition is slightly different to opening a Wiccan or Druidic circle, rather than cast a circle around the space, we call in the four directions and then call the Goddess into the centre, picturing Her energy as radiating outwards. There’s lots of spinning. In a way, it was quite equalising, as the practised Pagans and non-Pagans alike were new to this way of opening. As always, of course, there’s no way to get it wrong as intention is what counts, and all who stepped up to call a direction were magnificent, but perhaps some cue cards next time to reassure those called upon to call in!
We worked through the afternoon with Brighid’s sacred water, invoking and blessing our power-from-within and Priestessing for one another. The chanting raised tangible energy and it was beautiful to watch the connections between participants deepen.
Brighid’s other element is that of fire, and we invoked Her forge fires of transformation to alchemise our anger and rage at all that is happening in the world around us, with the extinction crisis and climate breakdown, into the will to power, and the strength to go out and make change in the world, however small.
I was privileged to work with the amazing women who participated, the feedback was positive and I’ve been left with a feeling of inspiration to carry on offering workshops and reaching out to more people. We all need connections and resilience if we are not to burn out in our vital work as earth defenders. I hope I can play a small part in facilitating more of this reconnection in the future.