Articles/Essays From Pagans
February 10th. 2017 ...
Understanding the Unseen
Kitchen Magic and Memories
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)
October 10th. 2016 ...
Witchcraft from the Outside
September 11th. 2016 ...
How Did I Get Here? (My Pagan Journey)
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
September 3rd. 2016 ...
Rethinking Heaven: What Happens When We Die?
What is Happening in My Psychic Reading?
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
An Open Mind and Heart
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
The Fear of Witchcraft
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
Magic in Sentences
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
The Evolution of Thought Forms
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
Native American Spirituality Myopia
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
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
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
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
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
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: 4,628
Times Read: 5,781
Author: Janice Van Cleve
Posted: June 21st. 2004
Times Viewed: 5,781
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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