Rev. Karen Tate
Sacred Places of Goddess
Goddess is The Secret
With Spring upon us, the mind turns to the promise of the season offering the potential for our blossoming and growth in the coming year. But how can we move from metaphor into manifestation and ride that potent wave to improve our chances for abundance in all phases of our lives?
Much has been made recently of the new book and dvd, The Secret, introducing the less-magicly inclined among us to a New Age, touchy-feely explanation for the old knowledge sometimes called the cosmic law of attraction. Like the slightly older and more science-driven film, What the Bleep Do We Know?, both inform the masses how our thoughts are things that literally alter not just our perception of the world around us, but our life and reality. Like a domino effect, this understanding then forms the foundation for belief that our actions, inspired by our conscious and unconscious thoughts, of course, then affect how our future unfolds. In other words, we get what we expect. We get back what we give. The attitudes we put into the world, the intention and attention we put toward a goal or an idea, whether negative and positive, will be reflected back at us in kind. The laws of attraction and reciprocity dictate goodness put in will net goodness returned and vice versa.
If you are still having doubts about how thoughts and energies affect us, stop and run some scenarios through your mind. What do you think and how do you feel when you hear the sound of a baby’s cries, or the domestic dispute of your neighbors seeping through the apartment walls? What emotions crop up when you witness human suffering, or politicians spinning lies on television? Can you remember getting caught up in the cheers of a crowd at a football game and the surge of emotion when your team has just scored the winning touchdown? Or think back to your reactions when you have been sitting on the edge of your seat in a dark movie theatre as you watch an intensely scarey movie, or laugh with a really smart comedy. Perhaps you can recollect the feelings and thoughts around a loved ones death or divorce, or in comparison, the birth of a new child. What about if your co-worker was promoted over you, or your friend got that book contract that you coveted? How do you feel after meditation? Examine how you feel when you are compassionate and generous toward someone versus being petty, insidious or jealous. All these common situations spark emotions and thoughts that in turn trigger a reaction and our outlook, that affect our life path. It’s a domino affect. And negative emotions or thoughts like self-doubt, indecision, low self-esteem and lack of gratitude can block the flow of attraction.
Now consider that your emotion and thought, in conjunction with other’s intentions and attention, all combine to intentionally or unintentionally create a collective wave of energy. Remember when thousands turned out in grief for Lady Diana funeral? Even if you were not in Paris or London at the time, the emotion surrounding her death was tangible across the globe. Or recall the positive, possibly miraculous affect your prayer circle may have had when they focused healing prayer and intention for someone who was ill?
What we expect we get. What we put out, comes back to us. What an incredible tool and an immense responsibility! What happens in life is not just random. We can alter our reality and the direction of our life. We are not doomed to a particular path or destiny. Fortunes can change if we change them, with our thoughts and intentions. On a larger scale, together with other like-minded women and men, we can change the face of the world. To quote a phrase of liturgy from Temple of the Goddess in Pasadena,CA, “We are the gardeners of our life."
One might also choose to see the law of attraction in the esoteric context as the reciprocity of the Divine Feminine, or She of Ten Thousand Names, who is the Creatrix of All Things. If Goddess is the universal womb, the activator, the Shakti, it is from She the spark of life springs forth and it is from Her all energies of the cosmos emanate and flow. Interestingly, the sistrum, sacred rattle of the Egyptian Goddesses, Isis, Hathor and Bast, was identified as a magickal and musical instrument that embodied the elements of the cosmos within its womb-shaped structure. The pagan philosopher Plutarch was noted to say the shaking of the sistrum ensured the energies of life within the cosmos would not become stagnant and decay.
As Mother Nature, Goddess provides not just our earthly home, but all that we need to sustain ourselves. As such, she teaches us what is nurtured thrives and what is neglected withers. When we give to her, she gives back to us. If we water a tree, it bears fruit. If we fertilize our relationships and projects with love, attention and proper care, we reap the reward. When we give to each other, she gives back to us and we are nurtured by those around us. We find good things flowing toward us from places we might not have imagined. Likewise, if we honor her, show gratitude for all she provides, and trust in her abundance and good will, life will be sweet and overflowing in fruitfulness. We then feel good about ourselves, then we can easily turn those good feelings of generosity and goodwill out toward others who need our support or help. In return, Goddess protects us in the embrace of her golden wings. It is a circle of reciprocity, giving, and nurturing with positive returns.
Likewise, if we are greedy, abusive, wasteful, care little for others, are mean-spirited, short-sighted, jealous, bitter, petty, spiteful, and fearful, one might find life does not hold success, happiness, contentment, joy or love. Like attracts like. If we climb on the backs of others to get ahead, if we denigrate others in an attempt to feel whole, if act negatively, and spew forth negative thoughts and intentions then one might find they are feeling they are alone, struggling, consumed by fear and loathing, envying others, and feeling less-than or un-fulfilled. But it all begins within, with our God/dess self. If we acknowledge the Divine within, if we love ourselves and have compassion for ourselves, we naturally and more easily can extend those positive feelings toward others, which begins the circle of giving, loving, and the attraction of abundance.
In the ancient world, the Egyptian Goddess, Isis was so beloved her worship grew beyond the Nile River regions of Egypt, crossing the Mediterranean Sea, traveling into Greece,Italy,Gaul, Turkey and beyond. Her worship was found as far west as the British Isles and as far east as India and the Middle East. She was thought to embrace all within her golden wings as they approached her in times of need. She was an accessible Goddess, who understood the worries, desires and needs of mortal women and men. She came to be known as the Oldest of the Old, to embody all the goddesses within herself. Isis was all things, and all things were Isis. The Creatrix of all, Isis was Sophia, Nature, the Lady of Mystery and Magic, Mother, Warrioress, and She Who Held the Fates of Man in Her Grasp. Some of her most noted or picturesque temples that remain standing today are in Philae, Egypt, Pompeii, Italy and on the Island of Delos in Greece.
The Temple of Isis
Island of Delos, Greece
(Excerpted from Walking an Ancient Path, due out in April 2008)
Delos, the sacred isle, one of the most important archaeological sites in all of Greece, is the home to many goddesses, including our Goddess of preference,Isis. As our sacred tour group waited by the dock for our boat to take us from Mykonos to Delos, we were anxious with anticipation about the visit. When the boat was late, not just a few minutes, but ultimately an hour, we soon learned something about living in Greece, or traveling in general. Be flexible and expect the unexpected. This snafu turned out to be one of our quirkiest pilgrimage stories. Here was a country that could decide upon a whim, it could just ignore things like daylight savings time!
Finally, the boat arrived and we soon found ourselves on our way to Delos, where the only inhabitants are the archaeologists who still work there. As our boat approached the island, my eyes scanned the landscape before me and I searched for the Isis Temple. I knew it sat atop a high precipice and was viewable from the sea. I saw it! It was still somewhat intact and I could just barely see her headless statue within the temple, one of the best preserved on the island.
Having exited the boat, I walked toward the Temple of Isis, enjoying the exhilaration of the strong wind, cool and crisp as it whipped across my body. From her sacred house there was a commanding view of the island and the vivid, clear, blue ocean beyond. Her temple is adjacent that of her consort, Serapis, (a Greek conflation of Zeus and Osiris) and at first, we just absorbed the beauty of this setting. How wise were her ancient followers who chose this prime location for our Goddess' sacred temple! Sweet music filled the air as our harpist allowed the wind to sing its own song as the currents strummed the strings of her instrument. It was so magical, it was almost as if Goddess herself was serenading us, with the wind as her fingers upon the harp. The moment was one I will never forget all the days of my life.
We are fortunate to have time here and we took great care making our offerings to Goddess. We left her dried flower petals and stones inscribed with words of devotion, including our name and the date, so that those coming long after us would know there were still priestesses of Goddess, particularly of Isis, in contemporary times. Archaeologists in future times would know we traveled far to make this pilgrimage, much as our ancient brethren were apt to do to in honor of her. We sang songs and rattled our sistra, the sacred rattle of Isis. As I sat there, reluctant to leave, a rather unexpected ritual of sorts unfolded. Delos, or Isis, seemed to have claimed a favorite piece of jewelry; an amethyst and crystal earring embellished with a moon and stars - my favorite. As I reached up and realized it had already been “lost” to this sacred place, I offered up the mate. In reverence, I very lovingly took the remaining adornment from my ear and left it at the feet of Isis, protectively covering it with a large stone, feeling as I did this, I left a part of myself here with her for all time.
Looking back now on our three week pilgrimage, we all came home with mementos of our trip. Some were tangible and others of the intangible variety. Even if some thought they only came home with images of Goddess, or a great bottle of Greek wine, beautiful lapis lazuli jewelry or tons of photography, I trust we came back with much more than that. Our experiences were rich and varied. We learned much about ourselves, each other, and Goddess. Perhaps even more than we wanted to know. Traveling with people is like that. But if we put our faith in Goddess, while we might not have come home with what we wanted, or even with what we expected, as a priestess of Isis, as someone who has now felt Her essence, I must trust we all came home with what we needed.
Karen Tate is a prolific writer, published author, and tour organizer, Karen's most recent work blends her experiences of women-centered multiculturalism evident in archaeology, anthropology and mythology with her unique literary talents and travel experience throughout the world to pen Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations. Her second book Walking an Ancient Path, A Guide Toward Mainstreaming the Sacred Feminine, will be available in bookstores June 2008. Tate's work has been highlighted in the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times and other major newspapers. She is interviewed regularly on national public radio.