“I am what I am,

and I am all there is.”


In the presence of Minerva

We spent our second day in Rome walking in the heat amongst the throngs of tourists. But we are not really tourist stock and we usually prefer observing people and eating good food than sightseeing. We did sit in the shade of the Colosseum and debated whether to go in or not. Waiting in line in the heat discouraged us some. As I sat on a stone wall looking at the structure, I realized that the very ground I was standing on was soaked in blood. This structure that everyone was marveling at was built of stone and blood: blood of slaves and martyrs and prisoners. Blood for entertainment. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be in its walls anymore.
Every ancient structure was essentially re-baptized and converted to a Christian devotion towards the end of the Empire. We visited the Pantheon that used to be a temple to Roman deities and had been re-consecrated as a Christian Church. It is built according to divine proportions and respects sacred geometry. Lets just say that the ancient ones knew what they were doing…
Our bus was leaving in 2 hours and we weren’t sure where to go to escape the heat anymore. By chance, we passed by the Museum of Ancient Rome. We decided to seek refuge there. It was a stark contract to the outside world: it was cool and only a handful of people walked its halls. A lemon garden grew in the middle. We walked among marble statues of ancient Roman families. You would think that after a couple statues they would all look the same. But I couldn’t get enough of it. These were the remnants of families, of heros, of real people. And they looked so much like me: the same neck line, the full hips, the small stature. I felt like I knew them.

My husband took a picture because he thought she looked like me.

There were sacred bathing vessels. At one end, I saw what was supposed to be a devotional home altar. I put my hand on it and withdrew it right away. I realized that I had no idea what had been offered on it. Despite its marble whiteness, I felt that there might have been blood sacrifices. Not human, I don’t think, but likely animal ones.
The most impressive piece at the museum was a 10-foot statue of Minerva. The inscription said that due to its size, it must have been a cult statue in a temple as opposed to a house statue. I could only dream of all the ritual, offerings and devotions that this statue must have witnessed. I felt the sacred priestesses dancing in front of it. Objects retain the events that they have witnessed. This statue was still alive from all the greatness it had witnessed. I came away from the museum feeling like I had found a piece of truth about myself, reconnected to a forgotten part of my own experience.

Two Candles

Image via Wikipedia

Once your circle is cast, you invite your deity figures to come in and bless your rite. The concept of deity is complex in a Christian Pagan setting and I would like to give that topic full attention soon. So bear with me on this for now. Suffice to say that you want to invite that which blesses you in your rite and in your life. You may already have a name and a face for this essence, or it might be just that, an essence. Nothing comes into being without the Great Source. This is why I always invite it to bring life to my rituals. You can do spells without invoking deity. Then you draw solely from the elements at hand in your spell (like the energy of the earth, of herbs, of a flame, etc…) I walked into Witchcraft with the intent to live a practice that honors the Divine. That is why I call on that Divine source to assist me in my rites.

Traditionally, there are two white candles on the altar: one for the god and one for the goddess. I realize just now that I did not talk about the altar at all. I’ll save that for later as well. (Please somebody remind me if I forget…) As you light your deity candles, much as you invited the quarters, you invite and honor your God and Goddess. You may wish to welcome them with any words you might see fit and that inspire you (or you may do it silently or chanting or in tongues, or any other way, for that matter) My invocations have changed over the years as my religious practice and the definition of myself changed with regards to that other realm. It is nice to keep track of these in your grimoire/book of shadows to see how you have changed over the years.

Lately, I welcome my Lord and Lady in the following way:

‘Blessed art thou, Lord of all Creation for giving us the Mysteries,

That we are made in your image, co-creators of all that is and divine in essence;

And blessed art thou, Holy Mother, Gardian of Heaven and Earth,

from whose womb all blessings flow so that we may know Life;

All glory to you Lord Jesus for giving us the teachings of the most High,

Guide me with your wisdom.

Hail Mary of Magdala, Holy Priestess of Our Lord,

Bless your servant who humbly presents herself to you.

All glory to you for thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever and ever.’


One of the greatest lessons that I have learnt from the Great Goddess is to embrace that ebb and flow of feeling that seizes me from time to time.  While most of my life I had striven to gain balance and inner focus, suddenly I embraced everything that I had been struggling against: rage, sadness, despair…. Most spiritual traditions promote this ‘evenness’ of emotion, including Christianity. But these emotions are the deepest expression of our human journey and no matter how much I focused on inner peace and balance, these waves of feeling would inadvertently come and sweep me off my feet. Studying deity figures and mythology, it became apparent that the gods themselves embodied all these emotions in their purest and most intense expression. The many facets of the Goddess express grieving, rage, vengeance, jealousy, hopelessness… And when she does, she does so fully, without retinue. And so I started to do the same. When I feel, instead of putting all my efforts to drive the feelings deep down, I let go the reigns and experience them fully. I have found that it is the fear of the descent rather the descent into that world of emotion that causes us to be distressed. The feelings are neither good nor bad. They simply are.
So, yesterday, as I walked back from work, I felt a wave of intense melancholy sweep through me. I wondered if it was my intuition trying to tell me that something was wrong. There are a million things that I could probably look into. But instead of worrying, I just let myself feel the sadness, to the point of tears. I walked in the crowd and I could feel this person or that person’s sadness, impressions of their lives fleetingly moving through my mind. I stopped worrying about my life and joined the dance with everyone else.
Today, a new feeling in my body. From the depths of my stomach, a swirl of flowers and butterflies, and I just want to hug everyone. I want to talk to them, see how there are doing. A great love.

It feels so good to feel. It’s like a massage deep inside my body, like so many knots being released at once. Why do we deny ourselves this pleasure?

Here’s a little story that happened a couple of nights ago. After a particularly exhausting 2 hours of getting the kids to go to sleep, I slipped into bed and asked my heavenly Mother to reach out and talk to me. I was just wiped and I needed something I couldn’t even express. I just needed to be held and told that everything was all right. I didn’t want a big mystical revelation. Heck, I didn’t even know what I was asking for. I just turned to her and said, ‘Talk to me. I need you right now.”

I had a dream that I was standing in a classroom. The professor came up to me and gave me this little icon shaped like a many pointed star. On one side was a picture of Our Lady. ‘This is the Theotokos, the bearer of God’, the professor told me. He turned the icon around and there was a picture of a monastery on a mountain top. Mount Athos, I thought to myself. It is a monastery in Greece that I read about not so long ago. Orthodox saints live there, living a life of contemplation. It is a place of magic where healing and remote location and levitation are not so uncommon. But most of all, it is a place completely devoted to the Mother of God, who is the only woman allowed within its grounds.

As I got in the car the next morning, I found my key chain of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa that had been missing for a couple of months. Our Mother was telling me that she was here. She did not tell me how to deal with the kids or how to manage my life. Her message was that she was there, really there in my everyday life. She was real enough to send me an icon in my dreams and to manifest a key chain that I thought was lost forever. And if I am in need of anything, I know I can turn to Her and she will appear.

I was sitting last night on the couch, perusing a book on Christian women mystics that I’m reading for background on the new book. My  twenty-month old little girl crawled up on the couch next to me and looked up at me with that mischievous look she does so well, like she has a secret she doesn’t want to share just yet. I looked at her and couldn’t help smiling. She’s already more little girl than baby, looking at me from under that mop of reddish curls, with those olive brown eyes. Her older brother and her are like the moon and the sun. My son has an even temper, speaks little, observes a lot and senses everything. Behind his stoic facade, he has an enourmous, intense internal life. I always feel the urge to go and make sure he is OK, that his big emotions are not overpowering his little 3 year-old being. My daughter, on the other hand, is all out. She is all happiness or all rage. She tells you what she wants, tells others what to do. She is my spark, born at high noon on Candlemas and we named her Chiara (meaning light in Italian) to honor this light and in honor of the great woman mystic, St-Claire of Assisi. She is so bold and independent that I sometimes feel she doesn’t need me as much as her brother does. Well, she demands different things of me and that is a learning that I have to do as a mother: how to give what each one needs without being unfair to either. I guess you parents understand what I mean.

So there she was cuddling up next to me and looking at me with that “What are you doing?” look. Usually, she would have taken the book away or jumped on me. But tonight she just cuddled as I read my book. It struck me then that we were sharing a special, sacred bond. I was reading about these great women whose teachings have been withheld from us. My daugther had every link to these women, down to her name. She was the essence of those women, bigger than life and strong in conviction. And she would not have to wait to be in her thirties to discover them. That may be my greatest gift to her. She will grow up knowing the names of Thecla, Leoba, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich and countless others. She will grow up knowing that we have a tradition of Holy Women who worshiped Lady-God and who lived a life of service and contemplation to unite themselves with Her. She will know that there were Women who spoke when they were told to be quiet and who wrote their wisdom even at the threat of dying. She will know that she is in the image of God just as much as God is an image of her.  I whispered to her, “I’ll show you everything.” and she looked up with a smug little face. That is our sacred bond.

Give your daughters a big hug today!

We went walking on the side of the Great River (La Grande) that gives its name to the little community where we live. The temperature had dropped suddenly to 10 degrees and the fog was rising off the water like a scene from a dream. I held the little hand of my son in my left hand and the hand of my daughter in my right. We walked up the hill that overlooked the river and I had the sudden vision of walking in the heart of a great hall.

I felt the warmth of their little hands and something whispered in my head:

This is the gift that She gave me.



I looked around and wondered who ‘She’ was.

Was it the great river, flowing steadily forward for millennia, unstoppable and majestic?

Was it the land of the Cree, where we had become parents and where we were living the greatest adventure of our lives?

Was it the grandness of nature that surrounded us so completely?

Was it the Great Goddess, fertile and of abundant?

Was it the Great Source from which all blessings flows?

Looking out at the grandness of nature, surrounded by my greatest treasures, it was clear that all those things were wrapped up into that little word.


The one who nurtures, the one who soothes, who defends and protects and gives beyond measure.

The one who envelops you with a grandness that you can hardly bear and shows you, how to connect with everything there is to become more than you have ever imagined.

She, the wind in your hair and the smell of the times, the water flowing through your veins and through the world in a slow pulsing rhythm.

She who loves and gives back to her children the lessons they need to learn if they sit to listen.

What blessing to live in her presence.

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