Articles/Essays From Pagans
February 1st. 2019 ...
Paganism and Witchcraft in the Media
September 25th. 2018 ...
Understanding the Unseen
August 25th. 2018 ...
A Little Magickal History
Men and the Goddess
Back to Basics Witchcraft: Magical Creativity for Small Living Spaces
Kitchen Magic and Memories
Why the Faeries?
Magic in Daily Life
An Open Fire: Healing from Within
Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light
Gudrun of the Victory Gods
Ares and Athena
La Santa Muerte... The Stigma and the Strength
The Lady on the Stairs
The Wheel of the Year in Our Daily Lives
July 26th. 2018 ...
The Importance of Unification: Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity
May 29th. 2018 ...
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
April 20th. 2018 ...
Nazis Made Us Change Our Name
January 25th. 2018 ...
Finding Balance: Discipline Wedded to Devotion
November 15th. 2017 ...
September 30th. 2017 ...
July 31st. 2017 ...
Sin Eaters and Dream Walkers
July 2nd. 2017 ...
On Cursing: Politics and Ethos
June 1st. 2017 ...
The Sacred Ego in Mediterranean Magical Traditions
April 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles
March 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords
January 10th. 2017 ...
The Gray of 'Tween
Becoming a Sacred Dancer
Little Dog, Big Love
December 9th. 2016 ...
A Child's First Yule
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
September 11th. 2016 ...
The Shadow of Disgust
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
An Open Mind and Heart
June 13th. 2016 ...
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
The Fear of Witchcraft
Magic in Sentences
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
December 20th. 2015 ...
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
May 6th. 2015 ...
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
January 1st. 2015 ...
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
August 24th. 2014 ...
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Women of the Goddess Circle
Article ID: 8516
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 5,389
Times Read: 6,444
Author: Janice Van Cleve
Posted: June 21st. 2004
Times Viewed: 6,444
Women of the Goddess Circle is a Pagan community of women in the Dianic tradition of Wicca based in Seattle. The Dianic tradition worships the Goddess alone without reference to the God as in mainstream Wicca. We have chosen the exclusive company of women and women's symbols to focus the harmony of our magic making. We are a circle, not a coven, and we are open to all women of good intent who sincerely subscribe to our purpose. Our purpose is to mark the eight Sabbats of the year in ritual, to strengthen the Goddess connection within us, to share this connection with others, and to bring wholeness to the world and to our journey as the Wheel of the Year turns.
We began in Seattle under a different name and structure about 1990. At that time we followed a teacher/seeker model in which one priestess pretty much ran things, did all the planning, and brought seekers along individually as they showed promise. The first priestess then moved on and the most advanced seeker became the new priestess. She took the circle to new levels in many areas, including teaching, invoking, and lists of songs and prayers. She developed a core group of seekers before she, too, moved on.
Now in its third incarnation, the Women of the Goddess Circle (WOTG) has adopted a different model. We have let go of all hierarchies, titles, badges of rank or privilege. We assume that we are all goddesses, all priestesses, and all teachers in that we all have our lessons to teach. Of course, some are more knowledgeable and more skilled than others and we turn to them more perhaps than to others for leadership, but they are still equal in every way to the most novice newcomer in terms of respect and standing in the circle.
We have adopted three levels of involvement with WOTG for our convenience and for saving postage rather than denoting ranks. They are seeker, initiate, and member. Seekers are those who have seen our notice on Witchvox or in other publications and who have contacted us. We are open to all women over 18 of whatever background, sexual orientation, race or class. We interview seekers via phone or in person to find out if we offer what they're after. If there is a fit, we mail them our brochure and invite them to the next ritual planning meeting. We have a rule that a seeker must come to a planning meeting before she will be invited to a ritual.
We celebrate the Sabbats on the Sunday of, or before, the actual date just because more sisters are available on the weekend. Samhain, however, we always do on October 31st. We hold a planning meeting two weeks before and encourage all seekers, initiates, and members to attend. This accomplishes three things: It allows us to meet new people and them to meet us, it offers an opportunity to bond and share in a relaxed atmosphere, and it underscores for all of us that we create our rituals from our own selves and not from any outside authority or master book.
WOTG does have a Book of Shadows which is given only to the members. Our Book of Shadows provides a framework to expedite our planning process and to provide some consistency in our practices. For example, there are many ways to call the directions but we always call them after we consecrate the circle and before we crystallize our intention. Everybody is encouraged to participate actively in the planning, even new seekers. We weave in the themes of our current lives. We work hard to bring together an intention for the ritual that captures a common thread (and which has only one verb!). We choose songs and roles. Role-playing is important in our circle and we strive to create as much participation as possible.
By virtue of coming to a planning meeting, a seeker becomes an initiate. No oaths are sworn, no badges or blessings are given, and no money changes hands. If you make the effort to show up and take part, you're in. We mail out fliers to members and initiates to invite them to the ritual. Once a woman has come to at least one planning meeting, she is enrolled as an initiate and continues to receive invitations. If she doesn't come back after four or so invitations, we place her back in seeker status which keeps her on the email list until she returns to another planning meeting or drops altogether.
Members are those initiates who have been to a few rituals and like what they see and the people they are working magic with. They pay annual dues to help support and maintain the circle and to signify their commitment. As long as they keep their dues current and are not removed for cause, members remain members as long as they wish. Again there are no oaths or special rites to become a member. Membership means commitment to the health and future of the circle and the sign of that commitment are the dues.
While all members are expected to take active responsibility for the health and well being of the circle, that is, to "hold the circle," we do elect three facilitators to manage the business of the circle. Facilitators are elected at our annual administrative meeting which is held on the first Sunday of November. Only members may attend this meeting. The duties of facilitators are to approve and terminate memberships, to set dues and fees and manage funds, to decide disputes and disciplinary actions if necessary, and to call meetings of the members. Ideally, facilitators should be familiar with Christina Baldwin's book, Calling the Circle, should have participated in 6 of the last 8 rituals, and should have been members for a year and a day. Their term of office is one year.
At the annual meeting we discuss what is working and what is not, what we'd like to see in the future, and who we want for next year's facilitators. We also review and approve the budget and approve or amend our administrative guidelines. The latter lays out much of what is explained in this article.
Women of the Goddess Circle is not a static body of laws but continues to grow organically. We have increased membership and active participation while shortening our mailing list. We have successfully institutionalized the role of facilitators so the circle is not dependent on any one key person. We have inculcated the concepts within our Book of Shadows so that any of our members can create and perform effective rituals within our intended format. We have a small treasury and steady cash flow to sustain our postage and other costs. In sum, we have a comfortable core of competent women holding the rim of our circle stronger than any one woman could hold it from the center.
This puts us in position to try new things. For some years we have expanded social activities like attending the annual medieval fairs and Yule suppers. We are beginning to develop moon rituals. And we are compiling a book of Pagan songs. We are easing off scripting every word in ritual to allow more spontaneous individual expression while at the same time memorizing and expanding upon standard prayers. We keep learning and growing, not because we are such experts, but because we are closely in touch with our lived experiences and we celebrate them.
Janice Van Cleve
Janice Van Cleve
Location: Seattle, Washington
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