I sit in a dark red room, waiting. There are several of us, waiting….. The Priests and Priestesses are preparing the space outside. I knew that this was a special night for everyone, but I did not know what to expect. Becoming a priestess of the changing Goddess was something that I knew I was born to become. I would face whatever challenge awaited me. It’s just, with my Goddess…. it could be anything.
Goddess of Spring and Rebirth, Queen of the Dead, Persephone seems a paradox. “But, who else would the dead worship?” the Priestess asked me when I said as much to her. Of course, the dead would worship one who could bring change and rebirth. How did that escape me for so long?
I heard the drums begin. They are coming for us soon. I sit and look around at the others here with me. I just met them tonight. Sally, she’s a mother. Don the dentist with his great big smile looks nervously around the room as he pretends nonchalance. I can’t recall the name of the short, heavy set man, but I know he’s a professor at the local college. Kelly is all of 20, dressed in witchy black. Then there is me. I guess I’m the fortune teller. My clothes are urban gypsy, and I am here because I hear dead people. Well, not just dead people. I hear all kinds of things.
The room lightens as a crone enters. She is carrying a lantern and holds it high as she says, “I am Hekate. I will show you the way. You may follow of your own free will, and at any time, of your own free will, you may go.” She then turned on her heel and walked slowly out of the room.
We all follow.
She leads us around the back of the house and across the patio to the back gate of the circle. There are two rows of witches that we have to pass through to enter the circle beyond. The drums become louder as we approach the circle in single file. I am right behind the crone with her lantern, and as I walk, I see flashbacks in my mind’s eye of many lifetimes where this has happened before: The entrance to a cave, where an old toothless woman held a lantern up and bid me to enter. A small row boat, where an old woman with a lantern asked me to climb aboard as we rowed into a large cave. Crossing a river upon stepping stones, as a man with a torch leads me up a hill to torches burning in the distance. These flash through my mind as I walk through the elders and into the circle.
The High Priestess is standing in the middle of the circle dressed in rich reds, with long flowing dark hair. She wears a familiar circlet with a moon on her forehead and she glows with an intensity that my soul recognizes. She speaks to us with a clear and powerful, yet soft and compassionate voice.
“Welcome to the Underworld, beautiful children of light. I am Persephone, your Queen, the mother of all Witches. You have come to me seeking. You have come to me wanting, unsure, unfulfilled, lacking, desiring, but of what you do not yet know. You have come as fertile soil, to be tilled, planted, and nurtured, with hopes that you will bear the sacred fruit; the fruit of mystery, death and rebirth–the fruit of the Goddess.
You have desires and dreams, romanticized versions of what you think you want and need. Yet are you open to receiving the seed of Goddess? Are you willing to release your attachments to what you think you know and be Her fertile ground? Are you ready to embrace the shadow so that you may walk in the light unencumbered? Have you the courage to face your darkest fears, so that you may be cleansed in the waters of Her womb? Can you fight the demons of your darkest nature, so that you may be able to embrace your true greatness and serve as Her Sacred Vessel?
Her Priests and Priestesses are Her Hands, Her eyes, Her ears, Her voice, Her heart, Her womb, Her warriors, Her lovers, Her messengers, Her healers, and Her guides. Yet they are also Her heavy hand of Karma, Her voice of Judgment, Her vessels to serve and protect the balance whether those actions be perceived by you as good or bad.
Can you listen, and follow directions? Can you set down your pride and lead others by selflessly serving them? Are you devoted? Do you have faith in Her love? Do you trust the harmonious balance of the Universe? Can you choose to serve the best and highest good, even when it seems that the choice is not in your immediate best interest?
It takes all these things and far more to serve Her. The power is more than you can ever imagine, and the responsibility is greater than you would have ever willingly chosen. I cannot possibly lay the mystery before you, for that you must discover on your own. But I can tell you the rewards far outweigh the cost. Yet the cost will be paid with hard work and sacrifice. Are you willing to release that which stands in your way, to know yourself as a sacred vessel through which the God can work?”
She stopped speaking and looked at each of us. Asking us the question with her eyes. Watching us intently. Measuring the look on our faces, or something else we could not see. She then took a plate of pomegranate seeds, held a single seed up for our inspection and continued speaking.
“Think on this magic seed. Will it find loving fertile ground within you? Will it fall on barren fear? Can you suspend your disbelief and let the magic work within you? Can you allow yourself to be molded by Her into something that you are incapable of understanding at this moment? Are you the open, waiting, receptive energy of Goddess, waiting to be fertilized with the seed of knowledge?
If so, then partake of the food of the dead. Allow me to plant the seed within you and let the process of your transformation begin.”
The drums began again. I hadn’t realized they had stopped until I heard them resume. She approached me first. I wondered for a split second how I managed to be first in this whole parade. Then courage overtook me. The desire I had to know Her came over me and I smiled, welcoming the seed to of my Goddess to change me forever.
A chant begins, “Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Innana…..” The High Priestess, who has transformed into Persephone herself feeds me a seed. I feel a tingling upon my lips as she places the seed in my mouth and kisses me with a blessing at the same time. An elder turns me deosil and sweeps me around the circle into the dance. Each of my companions are fed a pomegranate seed and brought into the dance. I join in the chant, as do the others. The drums increase as the energy swirls around and through me. The tingling from my lips has spread to my body as the power peaks to a crescendo. I feel laughter bubbling forth from deep inside me as my hands are grasped on either side, and a circle of swirling witches dance into a rune around the circle. It’s as though my feet are lifted from the ground as my new brothers and sisters of the wise rejoice with me at my inception onto the path.
For a moment time stands still. I am swirling, laughing, held aloft in midair with my hair flying around me. Persephone is there with me, ten times my size. Holding me like an infant. Looking into my face, smiling. She is my mother, giving birth to me as an adult, giving me her talents and gifts, teaching me and guiding me.
I hear my Priestess speak, “Down!” and I am back… amongst the witches, my brothers, sisters and elders. Those, who will guide me, open the doors, providing opportunities for me to grow and serve; they redirect me when I lose my way. It is a special bond. One I have worked for, searched for and finally found. My coven home. “Coven is thicker than blood,” I think to myself as I giggle and rejoice in the ‘tween space of magic.
I have a new spiritual family.
I smile, breathe deep, return my attention to the present and accept the Chalice being held out to me.