In late August, I wrote an article about the Tjet or the Knot of Isis, also called the Blood of Isis. I thought it a good idea to come back and write about the festival, now ended. We gathered in the live oaks and ashe-juniper trees, just outside of Dripping Springs, Texas. It is private land where we could be free in our choices of clothing, or not. The Festival of the Goddess is in its 24th year and going strong. We had close to 100 women and 28 little girls. Our Goddess this year was Isis, Goddess of 10,000 names. We came with the intent to reclaim Her name from the hatred and violence perpetrated by those the media calls by Her name.
Friday night, I served as co-priestess in the opening rite which amazingly elevated every woman there. We called the Quarters, invoked the Elements and tied the Knot of Isis, with nine-foot-long, red sashes, on to bamboo poles cut with a cross bar, made to resemble ankhs. Each woman invoked her Element and the Power and Magic of Isis to guard and protect the space where we were gathered. We then called to Isis to join us. With doumbeks playing, Isis – yes, a real live Isis – walked into our Circle. She had two escorts who assisted Her up onto a platform where She spoke to everyone present.
She was dressed, as you can imagine, in Egyptian robes with Her regal crown of horns and sun. On Her arms were Her beautiful wings. They were made by sewing men’s ties together with the small ends flapping in the breeze at the back. They stretched from Her shoulders to Her finger tips. Every woman and maiden there was able to come forward to receive a blessing from Isis. Many were enfolded in Her wings. Our Isis was a beautiful African American woman with long black hair, braided in knots. She completely embodied the spirit of Isis. This was her first time to ever come to a Goddess festival and I am sure when she agreed to her role in the ritual she thought it was going to be like a theatrical performance but she truly aspected Isis. It was amazing. I talked to her later and she told me that she never anticipated the intense emotional experience she had.
Once the blessings were completed, the women at the Quarters brought their Tjet-tied, bamboo poles to the center where a large piece of fabric was tied at the corner of each pole and then lifted to be carried over Isis as they processed up the hill to the Temple where She then moved to sit on Her throne.
We placed a basin of water at Her feet in which were the Waters of the World and asked for the blessings of Isis to purify and bless all of our waters, so polluted by mankind and to help all become more mindful of how important it is for our waters to be clean. From there we installed the four poles, knotted with the Blood of Isis, to stand guard at the Temple.
Everyone went from there to the large fire circle for drumming and merriment. (I went to bed.) Later, in the dark of night when no one was in the Temple, a life sized Isis was placed on the Throne. She was made with a wire frame, stuffed and dressed. Her Styrofoam head was painted to have dark skin and her hair and headdress were identical to those of our “live” Isis. She was amazing!
The next day I offered a Croning Rite, to mark that Passage for eight women, ready to be known as Crones. I was assisted in the ritual by the women who were serving as Crone Guardians for the weekend. I took them on a spiral of their lives from Girlhood, to Maiden, to Mother and to Crone. We all cried together with all the memories shared! That afternoon I did two workshops, back-to-back. The first was Yoni Printing and the other, to share what the Tjet means, as well as to teach women how to tie it. There were many other workshops – Intuitive Tarot – Breast Casting – Sacred Dance – Tara Dancing, to name just a few.
Once my part of the day was completed, I sat with good friends in the Crone Camp to enjoy the beautiful land, the shade and cool breeze – and to rest. My old bones were tired!
Saturday night was the big talent show. This festival started out 24 years ago for women to come together and share their talents – artistic (as vendors) singers, dancers and musicians – to perform for their Sisters in a safe and beautiful environment. When we first started this it was held on a piece of property owned by Genevieve Vaughn who gifted the use of the land to us. It was an incredible space that even had indoor accommodation for women who needed beds. All of the performances Saturday night were wonderful. I will have to say that I enjoyed what the maidens offered the best of all. Such amazing talent – and those little girls up on the stage – fearless!
Sunday, I once more served as co-priestess to offer a closing ritual in which we honored all Women’s Blood Mysteries by asking Maidens who started their moon cycles this past year to come forward for a blessing. Then all who had carried a child in the past year and finally all who had stopped bleeding.
We offered our gratitude to all who had organized and made this festival such a success. It certainly does take a village! One of the women on the Planning Circle made a small ceramic Knot of Isis made into a necklace with cording, for every woman who came to the festival.
My own part, in addition to what I did on-site, was to take all incoming email messages with questions and respond with answers. I organized the first Crone Camp ever. We offered a tent already in place as well as cots to sleep on. It was the first time since we moved from Stonehaven that beds were offered. Our Crone Guardians helped by erecting and taking down our large tent. They were also there to help when needed. I also got to be the one who took care of all the women seeking scholarships. I told everyone that I definitely had the best job in the Planning Circle as I got to speak to so many marvelous women! I came home with new friends and a happy glow from being surrounded by so much love.
Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of the Goddess. She is the author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch where she teaches courses in Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, Northern European Witchcraft and Druidism. She mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.