Where were the women? I grew up in the Presbyterian Church, and it wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I ever saw a woman offer a prayer in church. That was when they hired a woman with a Masters of Divinity to be an Associate Pastor in charge of Christian Education, meaning they had hired another woman to be in charge of Sunday School and this one had a higher degree. I, very early on in my Sunday School career used to ask, why can’t women pray in front of the church? Why can’t women give the sermon? Why is the only place girls are allowed to be in the front of the church, the choir loft? Why do we only mention Mary at Christmas? Why was Eve bad and not Adam? Why is it all right for Mary to be an unwed mother but not me? My Sunday School teachers loved me.
The answer for prayer was that you can pray anywhere you are because it’s your conversation with God–but I would ask if that is true, then why aren’t we allowed up front? No one ever had a good answer for that.
When I was nine and at church camp they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. We had to write it down and seal it in an envelope they would send to our parents. Since I had already told my mom I wanted to be a nun and it hadn’t gone over very well in a Presbyterian family, I should have know my writing down I was going to be a minister wasn’t going to go over well either. I wrote it anyway and Mom had the predictable explosion. Mom was not as progressive as her mother.
While all this was happening I was also being taught by my grandmother the basics of our family’s folk magic. She taught me about intent while I was cooking or baking, to have and hold the intention of meaning good for the people who would be eating it. She taught me if I was embroidering something to think good thoughts for the person I was giving it to. That kind of prayer made sense to me and there was no barrier of sex. My grandmother taught me to talk to the trees and the animals and to wish well to them. I never thought of that as prayer, but it was.
Grandma had gotten her college degree in 1910 from what is now UCLA. She was a member of the Friday Morning Club in Los Angeles, one of the first women’s clubs in the US. She and a friend went by themselves to Alaska in 1906 when they were 16. No one told my grandmother, “You can’t do that.” She wouldn’t have listened and would have gone her merry way–but getting in front of the church was denied her, and I’m not sure that ever crossed her mind to want to do that.
Fast forward to 1984 and the first time I ever attended a Goddess ritual. A woman was leading the ritual. A woman was directing the activity. A woman was holding the chalice and the athame (ritual knife) and performing the Great Rite. A woman Goddess was being worshipped! A Goddess that looked like me. I was enthralled, and I was in love. I needed to learn to do this kind of ritual. That was when I started formally studying the Craft. I had come home.
I landed in a system of spirituality that expected me to fully participate. I had to be there and present, based on the premise of “be here now” in body and spirit. I have never looked back. To be a Pagan, a Wiccan or a Druid means never sitting in the back pew and letting the service go on around you. It means not having to sit in the choir loft and to sleep with my eyes open during the second sermon of the morning because I really didn’t care what the minister was saying as it didn’t apply to me.
To be a Priestess is to be responsible for your own spirituality and to be responsible for helping everyone else in the Circle on the path to the Goddess, however they see Goddess. For the most part a (white) Christian church service is a passive experience. Unless you choose to engage, you can sit in the back pew and never even stand up for a hymn. You can’t do that in Circle and that frightens a lot of people back to go back to what feels more comfortable.
The Goddess or Goddesses are not distant old men on a clouds somewhere. They aren’t disapproving of who I am or who I will be. The Goddess is in me and the Goddess is in everything and everyone. There is no distance between me and the Goddess. As the Knot of Isis prayer says, “No shadow exists between our footsteps and the will of the Goddess.”
Now I can offer an invocation or a prayer and never think about whether I should be “allowed” to do it. I can follow my spiritual path wherever it leads me and not be told I’m doing something incorrectly. I have the responsibility to follow my path and my practice with no barriers. I thank Goddess every day for that blessing. I can invoke her from the center of the Circle. I am Priestess.
Kat Robb has a B.S. from CSUN as a Naturalist Interpreter. She is an ordained Priestess in the international Fellowship of Isis and the Temple of Isis/Los Angeles since 2000 and a Druid in the Druid Clan of Dana. She has been active in the Los Angeles pagan community since 1984. Her book Tales of BunniHoTep is available on Amazon.com along with her other magical tales and her blog can be found at http://elfkat.wordpress.com. She also has a pagan children’s activity blog here: http://thelittlestdruid.wordpress.com.