I make a vow of self-sovereignty,
a declaration of wholeness,
a promise to myself that I will keep:
I vow to listen to my heart,
to claim my power and my voice.
I vow to live my own magic,
to step into the center of my own life
and live from there.
I vow to live a life
that includes space for me,
to stand up for what I need,
to listen to my longings,
to honor my inner call,
to do my own work with trust.
I vow to never abandon myself.
I vow to inhabit my own wholeness
in all ways.
In February, I signed up for a Vow of Faithfulness class with WomanSpirit Reclamation. Guided by Patricia Lynn Reilly (of “Imagine a Woman” and A God Who Looks Like Me fame) and Monette Chilson, the class was based on Patricia’s book, I Promise Myself: making a commitment to yourself and your dreams. Structured as a seven week online women’s circle, the class took us on a deep dive into vow-making, culminating in a vow ceremony in which we made a public (to the class that is) declaration of our own vows to ourselves. As the class unfolded, I found myself reviewing past vows as well as sensing new vows bumping up against my consciousness, whispering to be heard.
When I was 19, I wore my mother’s wedding dress and a crown of flowers and walked through the rain to my beloved where we made our vows in front of a three tiered cheesecake laden with blooms. I did not know then how well I’d chosen, how we would grow together looking outward in the same direction, walking through life hand in hand, united. When I was 29, I wrote a vow of recommitment for us and together we built a stone labyrinth in our front yard. We walked in separately and met in the center where we repeated our new vows together and then invited our children to join us, walking out again as a family. When I was 30, I was scoured by grief, stripped bare by pain, and hollowed out by loss. I made a vow to the Goddess, walking my stone labyrinth with a candle and private prayer from my heart that would become the most powerful vow of my life to date. When I was 33, I took a vow as a priestess, witnessed by stones, oak trees, and wind, then made formal by an ordination ceremony and later with a doctoral degree. I renew this vow of priestesshood each year on my birthday, pledging myself to the practice of my promises. When I was 40, I made a vow to the Goddess Persephone, to living and learning from the story of my own life, to rebuilding my soul. We journeyed into the underworld and I returned sovereign, my self reclaimed and fire in my eyes.
I also considered the less formal vows of my life, recollecting how I have made vows to the wild, spontaneous and sweeping, some forgotten, some bone deep, promises to listen, to follow, to return, to give. I have made spells of blood and tears, dirt and salt, sand and shell. I have knelt against the earth, hands pressed flat in supplication and surrender. I have woven wishes into form from threads of moonlight and dreams. I have plunged my arms into newborn waters, anointed my own brow with dewdrops, raindrops, and slow trickling cave spring rivulets. I have pressed my prayers into flower petals and acorns, into soft yellow sun bread, and leaning curves of wild rye and river oats. I have dedicated myself body, bones, and breath to my place, to the land I walk on. I follow its teachings and trust its wisdom. For me, the Goddess lives here between oak branch and stone, between sky and wings.
Now, 44, in this class, I composed a vow of faithfulness. Though bits and pieces were swirling around from the day the class began and the finished vow itself felt like it had been life long in the making, it took me five of the seven weeks to finish writing my vow. It began as patched together pieces from past writings and grew to four pages in length, then was carefully and intentionally carved back to a single page, words that would fit onto a pretty card, bordered by flowers and printed in purple script. On the day of the final class, in which we would make our vows witnessed by our online circle, I decided I wanted to also hold a vow ceremony for myself privately, in a grove of pine trees on a steep hillside. I requested flowers from my husband and received them, yellow roses and purple lilies. I chose a garnet ring, years unworn, as my symbol of commitment. I draped myself in blue and purple silk and set forth through the trees, my heart alight with anticipation. I descended onto the slope and found my place between tall pine trees and ancient limestone boulders. I settled myself onto the carpet of brown needles and looked out at the trees. Sunshine peeked between the clouds and I listened to the thin trickle of water making its way through the stony gorge. The cool wind curled up from valley to softly sigh amongst the pines, to stir my hair and kiss my face with a blessing. I spoke my vows of faithfulness to myself, vows a lifetime in the making and living, watching vultures circle high above the pines. As I spoke, a wild turkey suddenly flew by in front of me, a great flutter of noise that momentarily made me pause my carefully chosen words and smile.
I sealed my promises with my garnet ring slipped onto my middle finger to rest atop another ring that already rests there, one proclaiming simply: magic. And, so it is. So vowed and sealed I felt a great rush of joy, my face luminous as I took a selfie in the trees my beringed hand held out in front of me like one newly engaged. I leaned my head against a pine trunk and a tiny rainbow danced in the sunbeams across my face. I was witnessed in my declaration by tree and cloud, sunshine and wind, stone and wing. The Earth holds me without question as I commit myself to myself. I am in devotion to my own life, to being here for it all. I will not override my own knowing. I will not abandon my own wholeness. I am here. I am whole. I have everything I need within me to live the life I choose. I will honor my promise. I will keep my vows.
The next morning, after the online ceremony was complete, I sat on my porch swing looking at my ring, remembering the ceremonies, both personal and public and the power each held. I thought about how important it is that we honor our own lives, our own transitions and changes. We are worth ceremony, celebration, and song. We are worth blue silk and yellow roses and the keeping of our own word.
You are worth blue silk
and yellow roses,
garnets and silver.
You are worth ceremony,
You are worth taking time,
May you keep your promises.
May you honor your vows.
May you be in devotion
to your very own life.
10 thoughts on “The Vows We Make, by Molly Remer”
So beautiful to read your ceremony Molly – an honor to read your vows and magic moments ….. love “The Earth holds me without question as I commit myself to myself. I am in devotion to my own life, to being here for it all. I will not override my own knowing. I will not abandon my own wholeness. I am here. I am whole. I have everything I need within me to live the life I choose. I will honor my promise. I will keep my vows.”……….. So mote it always Be……..
Thank you, Tess!
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Ceremony – intentions – oh these are the lifeblood of women feminists – but please oh please do not forget to honor the nature that offered you flowers, heard your pleas and your commitment – S/he is always listening and we must reciprocate by naming her, giving back just a ‘thank you’ for what has been given….
Thanks for reading! I see the connection and appreciation woven throughout just about every part of what I wrote here. However, my daily devotion to and honoring of nature was also part of my actual vow (the text of which I didn’t actually include in my post because it is personal).
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Ah, that explains it
As I was reading Molly, I was thinking of the difference between this and what many ‘hikers’ do. There are so many more hikers these days, and they might pass through a spot like this never really seeing, never connecting like you do. As one who also does ‘ceremony’ outside, it changes everything, doesn’t it. Thank you for posting on the divine feminine app as well. As always, motivated and moved by your beautiful words.
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Thanks, Caryn! It does change everything.
Tears in my eyes and re-commitment in my heart. Thank you, Molly.
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Glad it spoke to you!
I loved this. So inspiring and beautiful to read. I love the photos as well. What an amazing, touching and personal ceremony. Thank you so much for sharing this. One day I hope to do something similar myself.