I’m deep in ritual at California Witchcamp in the redwoods on the northern coast. The night is dark, cold, yet a bright hearth fire illuminates the center of our magic circle of warmth and power. A woman approaches me, takes my face between her hands and says: “Thou art Goddess.” Then she kisses me gently on my brow and moves on.
I, in turn, take the faces of others in my palms, men and women alike, and repeat: “Thou art Goddess,” and then kiss their brows.
Even as I write this many years later, still I feel my heart swell in response to this simple voice of recognition that applies to each and every one of us: We are Goddess. We are Divine. We are beautiful, powerful, worthy beyond our wildest imagination.
I didn’t grow up with these words. No one talked about the Goddess or Inner Divinity, and the only beauty, power and worth that came my way were meted out by outer voices, according to standards I had no say in and could never measure up to.
Once I reached adulthood, I inhabited a strange, disconnected zone of business woman in my work world, and sex kitten in my social life. I had two wardrobes, each with their own set of rules of conduct and outer masks. I did this unconsciously, seeking power and value from the meager, soulless options from the culture I’d been entrained to.
My stomach clenches as I write these words. Because that’s how I lived in those days, with my guts seized up and pushing down the true power and beauty inside of me.
The outer voice is all-pervading. From the moment we’re born, this voice kicks in, speaking through our family, friends, school, community, the books we read, and the media we watch, varying its message depending on our gender, the color of our skin, body type, ethnic background, economic status, and countless other external variables, and telling us over and over who we are, how we should live, and whether we’re worthy or not.
This outer voice works its way inside of us, and rewires our self-concept and self-love. By the time we reach our adult years, we’re entangled in its trap, and the outer voice is what we hear inside our head, and use to chart our life course and determine our beauty and value.
Yet the other voice, that connects us with our Inner Goddess, is also all-pervading. We just need to know where to seek this alternative voice, and then choose to listen and learn in new, empowering ways. Nature speaks in this other, alternative voice, and is especially clear in Summer when the powers of light and life are at their strongest.
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I reach out to you as the Summer Solstice approaches with its peak in the powers of light and life, and the seasons turn to Summer, gifting us with Nature’s transformative magic of beauty, abundance and goodness.
I reach out to you as I struggle daily with the onslaught of bad and depressing news that relentlessly reinforces the worst of our humanity, the mess we’ve made of this world, and our seeming inability to alter our destructive ways.
I reach out to you knowing that I’m not alone in my angst. We all sense, deep down, that change is coming at us, hard and fast — change that profoundly matters to our personal lives, to those we hold close and dear, to our children and children’s children to come, to our Earth home, and to our very future as a species.
I reach out to you to offer a different voice, and a positive, empowering vision and path of change in the face of the noise and negativity of the daily news cycle that locks us in a mindset of scarcity, fear, and gross imbalances in power, wealth and wellbeing. This outer mindset is just one possibility and path for our human society, and another path, arising from the life-centered ways of the Goddess and Nature, is flourishing outside your doorstep at this very moment.Walk With Me
Come, take my hand, join me as I walk on a fine, sunny June day, following the same path that’s guided my questing feet for twenty years — down a secret forest trail on our land that leads to a tranquil, rural road surrounded by farmland.
There’s a powerful juxtaposing of realities going on right now: one is the world as we know it, with an ethos of fear and scarcity, and an ugly underbelly that’s so evident in the daily deluge of horrific news; and the other is a life-centered ethos revealed in Nature’s emerging summertime landscape of stunning beauty and overflowing abundance.
Two realities, two ways of living and engaging the world around us, two different outcomes for our lives, human society and Earth home. At this moment, both these realities are turned on high, in our face, shaking us awake and asking us to choose.
This isn’t a comfortable discussion to have. It’s near impossible to take in the horror that’s become our daily news, without trying to hide from, deflect or rage against the toxic brew of sexism, homophobia, racism, violence and the myriad of other ills that pervade our human psyche and collective behaviors.
These terrible events and human ills aren’t isolated, disconnected aspects of our society. They’re symptoms or outcomes of a reality of fear and scarcity that rules our world, where there isn’t enough food, money, jobs, power, social status, and even love to go around. In a reality where the dominant, aggressive and greedy rise to the top of the pile, gathering life’s goodies to themselves, things are going to get nasty and ugly.
Here are three simple, potent lessons from Nature that can help you revision your life and our collective reality in alignment with the powers of life in Summer.
1. Abundance is real.
In the sun-bright days of Summer, abundance isn’t an illusion or utopian ideal. It’s real and substantive, woven of the raw elements of sun, earth, rain, soil and seed that, through the wondrous miracle of life, produce the foodstuff that feeds the hungry bellies of this world.
Nature’s abundance expresses itself in an ethos of generosity, of giving more rather than less, and taking only what is needed. Take a single cherry tree, not only does it offer up delicious fruits for humans and creatures alike year after year, but the pits of the fruit provide the seeds of future plants and harvests.
Imagine living in harmony with Nature’s ethos of generosity by giving more of yourself rather than less, and only taking what you truly need by walking lightly on this Earth.
Imagine conceiving this same abundance in our shared society, where a decent standard of living is a given, and power, worthiness, love, and other markers of personal satisfaction and social value are infinite and available for all, each in accordance with our deep, true needs.
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Twenty years ago on a Beltane Eve, I did my first ritual after moving to a rural home. In a secluded spot, surrounded by seven acres of undomesticated forest with only the stars and a single candle for illumination, I cast a circle and then called to the Green Man to come be with me in my Beltane magic. There was just me and my overpowering yearning to connect with the wild God energy of Nature. Sitting cross-legged with the moss-covered earth beneath me, I rocked back and forth, putting every ounce of my longings and love into my prayer and invocation, speaking out loud to the listening wilderness.
When you do magic in ritual space, the extraordinary and inexplicable can happen. This was one of those experiences. To my utter shock, a man-sized being of light appeared between the trees and walked toward me. His inner core was a warm, golden white, with diffused beams extending outward, like moving, radiant candlelight. I don’t have words to describe His beauty and power. Even as I write this many years later, I feel the intensity of His stunning, delicious presence pushing against my flesh, both from the inside and the outside at once.
Yet, I am sorry to say, this spontaneous, magical appearance in physical reality terrified me. Although I had been working with spiritual beings through my dreams, ritual and channeling for a number of years, my contact had always been through inner images and voices, not direct, physical communion.
I closed my eyes and asked the Green Man to forgive me my limitations and fears, and to come to me in the way I was used to, through visualization and words. And there He was inside of me, speaking to me, and gifting me with the information and insights that I needed at the time on my long journey of healing my relationship with God and men, and blossoming into my true, deep Self.
This Beltane experience has left an indelible imprint on me, with lessons that helped me truly understand and embrace the Green Man’s presence and gifts. Here are three of these lessons to inspire your Beltane magic with the Green Man.
1. The Green Man isn’t just a mythic being, a psychological construct or something we humans have made up. He is real, substantive and most accessible to us at Beltane when the veil between the worlds is thin.
This lesson brings up an important point of divergence in the pagan world. Some see the Gods and Goddesses as purely human creations that are the products of myths and reflections of our human psyche. Others understand these Divine beings as immense spiritual entities that we can encounter and come to know through our spiritual practices, dreams and human creative and mythic works.
Consider how you conceive the Green Man. What do you already know about Him through myth and story? How do you understand and engage the Gods and Goddesses in your personal and ritual work? How open are you to direct communion with the Green Man? Your answers to these questions will impact how you can experience and work with the Green Man in your Beltane magic.
2. The Green Man is the lover God who gives us whatever we need, in whatever form to help us grow and blossom as our true, deep Self.