Spring Rites and Equinox Lovers

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Plutarch, in his essay on Isis and Osiris, mentions an Egyptian festival that he says marked the beginning of spring and which was called The Entry of Osiris into the Moon. Here’s what he says:

Further, on the first day of the month of Phamenoth they hold a festival, which they call Entry of Osiris into the Moon, for it is the beginning of spring. Thus they locate the power of Osiris in the moon and say that Isis, as the creative principle, has intercourse with him. For this reason they also call the moon the mother of the world and they believe her nature to be both male and female since she is filled and made pregnant by the sun while she herself in turn projects and disseminates procreative elements in the air. (Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris, 43)

In his discussion of this passage, J. Gwyn Griffiths notes that there is no festival by that name in any known Egyptian calendar. Yet there are Egyptian texts from the temple at Denderah that show Osiris in a boat with Isis and Nephthys and explain that Osiris is entering into the Left Eye; and the Left Eye, as you may know, is an Egyptian designation for the moon. In the Denderah texts, spring is not mentioned, but Osiris is said to do His entering on the 15th of the month, that is, at the full moon. So in these texts, Osiris is seen as the sun as He enters into and unites with the full moon.

This also seems to be the case in what Plutarch writes. Osiris enters into the moon and Isis, the Creative Principle, unites with Him in sexual intercourse. Like the moon—the Mother of the World—Isis is filled and made pregnant by the sun, which has to be identified with Osiris. The moon is then both male and female for Isis and Osiris are united in it.

To date, this is all I know about this ever-so-intriguing reference. But I very much like the idea of a spring rite of Isis and Osiris and, in fact, this reference inspired the rite of sacred sexuality in Isis and Osiris Mysteries. A rite of sacred sexuality makes a great deal of sense as a rite of spring—when everything else is waking up and having sex and getting fertile once again. Bunnies. Eggs. Flowers waving their genitalia in the spring air. You get it.

In another part of his essay, Plutarch mentions an Egyptian tradition that the confinement of Isis (while She is pregnant with Horus and awaiting His birth) was celebrated after the spring equinox. This actually could work if Isis becomes pregnant at the spring equinox and carries Horus until His birth at the winter solstice, a period of ten months—or by Egyptian lunar count, ten. One of the Isis aretalogies notes that Isis decreed that women should give birth in the tenth month.

I’m not quite sure how to place the death of Osiris in this scheme, for His death rites are generally celebrated after the autumnal equinox. In that case, He has approximately six months in the otherworld, which is perhaps sufficient time for Isis to use Her magic to raise Him so that, by the vernal equinox, He can “enter into the moon,” make love with Her and beget Their Holy Child.

Just to be clear, no Egyptian tradition that I know of includes this particular seasonal timetable, yet I think it’s a fair conjecture and should be more than enough to inspire the appropriate rites of spring in Her devotees. Happy spring equinox…and may Isis and Osiris inspire and bless you in this season of growing light and life.

Our Isis and Osiris Mystery Initiation explore the sacred rites of divine unity find out more here

 

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Celebrating Sisterhood, International Women’s Day

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Reclaiming and celebrating sisterhood

What does the word ‘sisterhood’ conjure up for you? Togetherness, mutual support, celebrating each other’s successes and lifting each other up in our difficult times are some of the aspects that come to mind. 

Yet, it’s a sad fact that the idea of sisterhood has so often been undermined by our conditioning as women to compete, fear and turns on each other in a patriarchal system where power and resources are scarce. 

The distortion of our culture

The image of the backstabbing ‘bitch’ who steals her friend’s boyfriend, gossips behind her back, ‘uses’ her female friends and secretly envies their success is an all-too-common image in mainstream media and is one many of us recognise from our own experience. When women are systematically disempowered and stripped away from the root of their own womb power, this can have a very distorting effect, and the stereotype itself can have a self-fulfilling effect. 

According to eminent feminist bell hooks, women are separated from each other by sexism, racism and classism. Instead of seeing each other as beloved sisters, we feel threatened. We fall into the limitation of viewing each other through the lens we have learned in a deeply divided, sexist society, constantly assessing which of us is in a ‘dominant’ or ‘submissive’ role in any given situation. Woman-hating is deeply embedded in our culture. 

hooks say,we are taught that women are “natural” enemies, that solidarity will never exist between us because we cannot, should not and do not bond with one another. This is part of the patriarchy’s attempts to keep us from our power by separating us from each other. 

Yet, we long for more.

Natural co-operation

In fact, it is more natural for us to sympathise with each other and to co-operate peacefully as we used to do in pre-patriarchal societies, which existed for much, much longer than the structures we have today, according to researchers such as Merlin Stone, who explores these ideas in the seminal book ‘When God was a Woman’.

To reclaim our ability to live in sisterhood, we need to go beyond the barriers that seem to divide us and to achieve political solidarity between women, says feminist blogger Maribel Lopez. This means not oppressing each other in the way we have been oppressed – it is to unite in our diversity, find our common ground, and try to communicate with and understand each other despite our differences in culture, religion, class, race, ethnicity, and beliefs. To rise together. 

At the Temple of Sacred Arts, respect, honouring, nurturing and sympathising with each other form the basic goddess-centred approach toward all members as well as towards nature. It’s no coincidence that the division between humankind and nature occurred around the same time as goddesses were reviled in favour of male gods, and we are actively healing these divisions through our work. 

At the Temple of Sacred Arts, we strive to embody the ideals of Ma’at in our day to day life, which include:

⋆Speaking with sincerity and living in truth

⋆Living in a trustful way in all affairs, including our relationships

⋆Keeping our own council

⋆Acting respectfully

⋆Creating harmony

⋆Communicating with compassion

⋆Being forgiving 

⋆Speaking positively of others and with good intent. 

 

Isis and Nephthys

For inspiration on how to live in true sisterhood, we can look to the relationship between Isis and Nephthys, twin sisters who are the polar opposite of each other. Some might say that they are aspects of all women, representing both the dark and the light.

Their story could easily have resulted in separation and destruction. Nephthys sleeps with Osiris, Isis’s beloved, and gives birth to Anubis. Out of shame, she tosses the child to the desert. Isis hears about this and without a second thought goes to find the child, forgiving her sister and her partner. When Isis is captured by Seth, Nephthys breastfeeds Horus and also takes a very important part in the lamenting  (the resurrection of Osiris). 

The two support each other through these most difficult of situations. Instead of picking sides when it comes to one another, they exercise forgiveness. There isn’t any sign of jealousy between them and, instead of competition, they choose solidarity. 

Rooted in sisterhood 

Blogger Mookie Whitten puts it beautifully as she shares about the community she lives in, which is deeply rooted in sisterhood: “We have not let ourselves be alone. We have pushed, cried, and loved each other’s wounds. … we are beginning to heal. That is what sisterhood looks like. It is a deep feminine community. Rooted in love. Challenging, unselfish love.”

How can we start to embody sisterhood in our lives?

  • We can start from a vantage point of listening. We take the approach of seeking to understand the other woman’s reality, asking her sensitive questions and showing openness and support through body language and verbal communication. 
  • Instead of seeing the other woman as a competitor or threat, we actively look for opportunities for collaboration, finding our shared interests and challenges and uniting our energies for the collective good. 
  • We include each other. When a new woman comes into our community or workplace, we strive to welcome her and find out what she needs and how we can support her to contribute her gifts. We create networks of mutual support.
  • We avoid gossiping about our sisters and instead use our speech to uplift and support. We always respect each other’s privacy, integrity and autonomy and allow room for differences of opinion without taking it personally or making each other wrong. If this is difficult, we can ask for mediation and continue to work on our communication skills.

At the Blue Lotus Sanctuary, the goddess-centred nature community we at the Temple are creating, sisterhood will be one of the core founding principles. We will meet, celebrate and honour nature and the wisdom teachings together, working to transform ourselves and our society through deep respect and support of each other. You can read more about our community vision and find out how to be part of it here. 

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Rites of Passage

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Honouring our Life Journeys with Rites of Passage

 

Imagine if all the important events of our lives, and those of our loved ones, were honoured and celebrated together with a community. The richness of our human experience and our journeys through change would be witnessed, shared and supported to bring out the power of these transitions in healing ways.

Rite of passage

The loss of rites of passage

In traditional societies, rites of passage include transitioning into adulthood, becoming an elder, making a partnership commitment, or honouring the life journey of someone who has died or is dying. In the Western world, many of our rites of passage have been lost over the centuries or replaced with generic, commercialised versions such as getting our driver’s license to signify new adulthood or the big white wedding to symbolise commitment in love. This can leave us with a lack of meaning, purpose and integration into the community around us. 

Rite of maidens fire ceremony

Nowadays, rather than being celebrated as they once were, key life events such as a girl’s entry into womanhood with her first bleed are often simply ignored. The potentially positive impact of these events is lost and subverted into more destructive outlets. For example, teenage risk-taking behaviour takes the place of being actively welcomed and mentored into adulthood by elders. 

The loss or drastic change of these rituals is due to factors like colonialism, industrialisation, cultural assimilation and modernisation. Traditional rites grew out of societies very different from our modern ones. Communities were stable and seasonal changes were woven into the very fabric of everyday life, with our survival directly linked to the earth’s wellbeing. People were much more strongly connected to their family members and community since living setups were ‘human scale’ and people stayed in one place for their whole lives. Increased geographical mobility and transience people mean that people have drifted from their roots and from an innate knowledge of our relationship to the land. 

First moon initiation rite for girls

Professionalisation has turned duties which used to be lovingly performed in the home by family members or neighbours into tasks outsourced to specialists. “Caterers, funeral directors, and other entrepreneurs … sell rites of passage as commodities”, in the words of Pamela Nelson in this fascinating article on the return of rites of passage in America.

Both birth and death have been medicalised, with obstetricians and funeral directors taking over these intimate realms of life. Rites of passage have also declined with the rise of scientific rationalisation: the sacred has been driven out of our society’s awareness because of its association with religion.

Smudging with local herbs

 

Revival

Recently, however, there has been an exciting worldwide resurgence of the ancient rites of passages and celebrations of our natural life cycle, particularly those held in nature. This revival is answering our call for deeper meaning, acknowledgement of the personal and communal transitions we encounter in our lifetimes, and a reconnection to the land. The re-awakening of rites of passage is true medicine for the isolation, fragmentation and disconnection so endemic in our modern society.

Rites of passage allow us to bring in the Divine as well as to be witnessed by those who surround us as friends, family and community. By invoking blessings and showing gratitude for our lives, we consecrate the important events, passages and thresholds of our lives and reaffirm our place in the sacred, eternal cycle of life. 

By taking part in an intentional rite of passage ceremony, whether you are the one being celebrated or a member of the witnessing community, you co-create a meaningful story that allows all those involved to move forward and to contribute purposefully in ways aligned with their values and the community’s, confident of their responsibilities. Rites of passage also connect the generations in ways that are often difficult to achieve in our modern society. 

pagan rites

Rites of passages include:

✨ Handfastings, sacred unions and marriages ✨ Land blessings ✨ Baby blessings ✨ Coming of age or initiation rites for boys ✨ Births ✨ Naming of children ✨ Celebration of menarche (first menstruation) ✨ Crone or Wise Woman initiations ✨ Death rites ✨ Last rites ✨

Usually, these ceremonies are held by celebrants who are hired to perform the service. When we participate in these ceremonies in a community, however, we are following the ways of our ancestors, who experienced these events as part of the weave of daily life. At the Blue Lotus Sanctuary, the goddess community and eco-village we at the Temple are birthing into being, rites of passage will be embedded in the society in a natural way. Rather than having to remove yourself from your everyday life to undergo a rite of passage, with the challenge of integrating that back into a very different environment, you will be anchored in a community which honours the sanctity of life transitions with grace and flow.  

All our priestesses learn blueprints for initiations that can be customised to fit the occasion and the needs of the participants, including once in a lifetime events. We conduct these as free rituals through the Temple because we believe that they are a normal part of life. Even in the early stages of our community building, we envision holding rites of passage as an integral aspect of day-to-day priestess duties. 

Rite of pasage for young man

In the context of communal living, we will prepare for the natural cycles of life together and hold space to honour them. 

If you would like to have a rite of passage (or Life Cycle ceremony, as we also call them), you can book here to have one held by a Priestess of Isis, free of charge at a location of your choice.*

We are inviting people to get involved with Blue Lotus Sanctuary and help us to fund this vital project, where like-minded people can gather in community living to learn earth stewardship skills such as permaculture and immerse in deep wisdom teachings and practices. To find out more, please go here.

*food, accommodation and, where necessary, travel costs will need to be provided for the Priestess. 

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How to Set up a Sacred Space

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How to Set up a Sacred Space 

Sacred space is a potent way to invite magic into our lives and to remind us of the depths hidden beneath the surface of everyday life. The gift of a sacred space is that you can set it up wherever you are. Even if you are not in your own home or at a regular spot, you can enter into this magical sphere to perform a purification chant or movement. 

To create a powerful space for connection and transformation to enter, we need to carefully and lovingly craft both the inner and the outer elements: the physical and the emotional or mental. 

Physical Sacred Space

By using items that have emotional value or esoteric meaning for us, we create a comforting or empowering atmosphere. Depending on the specific purpose of the space, you can use things like candles, crystals, carpets, blankets, pillows, and altar items. An altar configures your sacred objects in a way that bridges the inner and outer worlds. 

  • Honour the principle of the circle

The circle is a symbol of no ending and no corners, and so setting things up in a circular way reminds us of the qualities of eternal space. If you’re holding a group ritual, arranging the seating in a circle allows for a feeling of equality and encourages the energy to flow.

  • Represent the 4 directions and the elements

This is a fundamental of magic practice in many traditions and simply involves placing an item – such as a candle or crystal – in each direction: North, East, South and West.

You can also honour the Earth Elements by marking each direction with an elemental object as follows:

    • Feather for Air,  
    • Candles for Fire,
    • Chalice or cup for Water, 
    • Stone, crystal or bark for Earth

Traditions differ on which element is present in which direction, so research which one is best for your purposes.

You can also choose one element that you feel is most ideal for your space. 

At the Temple of Sacred Arts, we associate Deities with the Direction as follows:

    • North: Isis/ Osiris 
    • East: Bast/ Ptha (or Sekhmet)
    • South: Maat/Thoth
    • West:  Nephthys/Hathor

In this practice, we place items outside the circle on each direction to symbolise either or both of the deities. This is to honour them and to bring the values they specifically represent into the space.

The process of setting up physical sacred space doesn’t have to be complicated. Both simple and more detailed options hold equal power. Allow yourself to be guided by your own preferences and culture as you find your unique way of setting up the physical sacred space – this can be very empowering. For example, you might want to simply use pure rose quartz for your circle at home, but create a more elaborate set up when holding a circle for others. 

  • Include healthy food & drink 

This is so that you can feel comfortable to stay in the circle for as long as you want. Avoid drugs or alcohol unless they form part of the act of ritual within the circle.

  • Carefully manage transitions out of & into the space

If you need to leave the space for any reason, but still wish to go back, it’s better to keep interactions with others outside the space to the minimum.

Here is more inspiration on how to relate to your altar in ways that support your relationship with the mystical. 

Mental/ Internal Sacred Space

Here, we are looking at ritual space holding rather than holding space to support someone with an emotional process, which is another art and practice.

The Mental or internal part of creating sacred space is about setting and holding the intention you want to imbue the space with. Perhaps your intention is relaxation or meditation. Or maybe you want to heal from a negative experience, send healing, love or prayer to others, or cleanse yourself or your home. Other times, you may be performing a ritual for others or a dance for the divine – a common practice here at the Temple. There is no wrong way of doing this as long as your intention is pure and honest.

Without an intention, however simple, this beautiful and vulnerable space can be hijacked by an outside force or by one’s own mind and ego-driven motives. In group rituals, we always have a space holder present purely to prevent this happening. This person will have the ability to clearly and openly hold a pure intention for the longest time.

 

Here are some things that can help with holding your intention:

  • Chanting and meditation: this trains the spirit to silence the mind, which in turn will help you to hold the focus on your intention for longer. 
  • Connecting with nature herself by setting up outside is another effective way to support your intention setting and internal sacred space holding. The wisdom of trees and the healing flow of rivers can palpably remind us of the qualities we wish to call in and embody, even as they soothe our spirits and raise our vibration to a higher level.

 

The intention-holding part of the process demands a high level of self-control and discipline, which we help you to develop on our Priestess/Priest Apprenticeship Program. This course offers an innovative way of teaching that is also grounded in tradition and will empower, train and prepare you to embody your Priestess/Priest role. You can also start with the Novice Devotee program if you want to develop more experience before taking a Priestess path. 

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Living as a cyclical being in a non-cyclical world

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Many of us honour the cycles of the seasons and the moon. As women, we can also allow ourselves to be consciously worked by our inner cycles, uncovering the body wisdom that ripens through the sacred gift of menstruality. 

To live cyclically, attuned to the rhythms of life and the waxing and waning of our energy, is to live sustainably. Just as on an environmental level we’ve seen the dire consequences of taking from the earth regardless of the soil’s need to lie fallow and replenish, and of valuing economic growth above respect for the planet, so too we cannot expect our bodies and minds to keep going without listening to the need to slow down, stop, and rest at times. 

The consequences of driving ourselves on throughout the month, no matter how we feel? Fatigue, depression, rage, pain and illness. By working with each different phase of the cycle and listening deeply to what it wants to unfold in us, we invite in more wellbeing and healing and start to thrive. 

Looking around, however, we see a world that is structured to function the same way, day in, day out, regardless of our internal rhythms. Modelled on patriarchal values that ignore the reality of most women, consistent productivity is the gold standard for our capitalist society, and if we’re not able to keep up, we can lose our clout at work. If you’re a mother, dropping the ball often just doesn’t feel like an option. 

 

So what can we do? 

First, begin to track your menstrual cycle. If you no longer menstruate or currently don’t have a menstrual cycle, you can track your emotional and physical changes in accordance with the moon’s movements. While each woman is unique, there are general ‘maps’ that can help us to understand the shifts at different times of the month.

Keep a diary to log how you feel emotionally and physically on each day of your cycle. Look for patterns of differences between the two ‘poles’ of ovulation and menstruation. In ‘Winter’, the ‘menstrual zone’, it’s ideal to take it slow, retreat and receive vision and direction for your life and community. Emerging out of Winter into the ‘spring’ of pre-ovulation, it’s a chance to be playful and experiment with new ideas. 

The energy rises until ovulation, or ‘Summer’, when you can be highly motivated and often ecstatic, with plenty of energy for work, play and pleasure. Pre-menstrual time, or ‘Autumn’, is when we strip away illusions about ourselves, others and our life – not so comfortable, but also a ‘harvesting’ of wisdom when you can channel your warrior spirit in the service of truth-telling. 

By working with these tendencies, instead of holding ourselves to the rigid consistency expected by the system, we harness the power of our ever-changing nature as women to become more aligned with our true desires and visions – and also more productive over time, with the things that truly matter. 

Living cyclically is a revolution from the inside out. Once you are working consciously with your cycle, you can start to speak about your cycle to others. This not only empowers other women but also normalises the concept so that eventually, it’s embedded in everyday consciousness. Already there are promising signs such as ‘period leave’ in certain companies. Educate your children about cyclical life at an age-appropriate level and they will be more likely to understand your need for more space at certain times. Plus, they’ll grow up thinking it is totally normal.

If you’re thinking, Rest all day when I bleed? Yeah right, give yourself what you can: for example, an hour at either end of the day to simply stop. Let go of all doing and simply be. Give your system the message to unwind and do its job of healing and repair. Gradually allow this small yet precious investment to expand into a full day of delicious rest and replenishment, or more. This will reap dividends for the rest of your cycle as you’ll be ‘powered up’ rather than running on empty.

Ask for help. When you know your bleeding time or natural energetic ebb, is approaching, get as many hands on deck as possible so that you can truly let go. You might get a friend or neighbour to have your children, delegate a few more tasks at work, or ask your partner to take on some household chores.

This takes courage and belief in yourself, and others may well require educating, but remember, you are working towards a world where we live in tune with our cycles, which benefits us all. 

With blessings,

Morgan 

Want to explore further? A great place to start is with the Red School website and Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer’s excellent book, ‘Wild Power’.

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