Meeting The Goddess
One of the more impressive aspects of our religion are the direct encounters with the Goddess that we sometimes have. These encounters can be divided into several categories. The first and most common is simply a perception of Her presence, which is most likely to occur during rituals, such as an offering. Next, there are appearances in dreams, which often provide answers to our questions or other advice. Finally, there are what I call "waking visions", which can be quite dramatic, and often contain important instructions or other urgent information.
These experiences demonstrate that the Goddess does indeed have an interest in our affairs. Although She seldom acts directly upon physical events in this world, She communicates with us and guides us, so that we may take the proper actions ourselves.
Performing an offering ritual is a good way to begin our practice. This is usually done at a small shrine or altar. Although it could actually be done just about anywhere, the altar helps us to focus our minds, and adds an element of formality and consistency to the ritual. By the way, the word "offering" is merely a legacy from ancient times. In our modern practice, nothing physical is actually involved. By giving of ourselves, we are in fact presenting that which is of greatest value.
Setting up a small altar is not difficult. It can contain anything that you feel comfortable with. Of course an image or statue of the Goddess should always be the centerpiece. Beyond that, candles help to create a relaxing atmosphere, and a bell with a good tone can be used to define our working area and bring us into focus. If animal imagery is included, lions and birds of prey are most appropriate.
Just before you begin the ritual, prepare yourself by setting aside any personal business or other concerns of that type. Try to create a calm and peaceful atmosphere, and allow your mind to relax and become more receptive. It may help to envision such things as stars in the night sky, a mountain stream, or green valleys and meadows.
Although the late hours of the evening are usually more peaceful and quiet, it's important not to be overly tired when you do the offering. If your mind is becoming cloudy with sleepiness, you may begin to lose the psychic sensitivity that you need, in order to connect effectively with the Goddess.
The following basic offering ritual is presented as an example. Please feel free to use it if you wish, or create an entirely new one of your own.
Standing before the altar, the person performing the offering shall first bow to the image of the Goddess, and then begin the ceremony by slowly and solemnly ringing a bell nine times. Next, they shall inscribe in the air with their right hand a Pentacle, while saying these words:
"Arcanus Maximus, Magna Obscura, Enigma on Totem"
They shall then continue, saying:
"O mighty Queen of all the universe, we are filled with wonder by the vastness of Your creation, and humbled by the majesty of Your divine power. We bow before You, and thank You for the blessing of Your love, and the great honor which we have, to serve You."
"O most beloved Goddess, we offer ourselves to You, that through us You may live, as we also live through You. Help us as we strive to preserve the beauty of Your Earth, and to defend the lives of all creatures which You have placed here."
"Hear the words of the Great Mother, the dust of whose feet are the hosts of the heavens, and whose body encircles the universe... I am the beauty of the green Earth, and the white moon among the stars, and the mysteries of the waters. I call upon your soul to arise and come to Me. I am the spirit of nature that gives life to the universe. From Me all things proceed, and to Me all things must return. Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals, and My law is love unto all beings. If you wish to know Me, you must find what you seek within yourself, for I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the ending of all desire."
They shall then bow once again to the image of the Goddess... and with that, the ceremony is concluded.
Let us now move on to the subject of dreams. A dream-state experience with the Goddess may occur unexpectedly, or it may come as a response to some specific question that we have asked. In either case, it takes some skill to distinguish between a genuine communication from the Goddess and the various other types of dreams that we may have.
Normal dreams are typically complex, fragmented, confusing, and rather easily forgotten. Due to their eagerness to encounter the Goddess, many people try to ascribe some deeper meaning to these sort of dreams, but unfortunately they are really of no special significance.
A much more unusual type of dream, which is often mistaken for a direct communication from the Goddess, involves memories which have been passed down to us from our ancestors. This is actually a well-known phenomena, for which there is no proven scientific explanation, however I will offer a general theory of my own. It concerns the DNA which we all posses.
Scientists tell us that the size of a human DNA molecule is far greater than required to merely replicate the physical body of the individual. What other purposes might that extra storage capacity have ? My belief is that when a person has a certain type of experience, which stimulates certain chemical reactions in the body, it causes the memory of the event to be stored in their DNA. This information is probably intended to have some survival value, although we are not consciously aware of it. Such a process may in fact explain the instinctive behavior of animals.
Under favorable conditions, for example at certain times during sleep, when the mind is relaxed and open, we may perceive the information in a very direct way. Although dreams of this sort are very unusual and exceptionally memorable, we should not mistake them for metaphysical experiences.
There are several unique qualities which indicate that a dream-state experience is a genuine encounter with the Goddess. First, there is an absolutely certain feeling, during the dream, that it is the Goddess with whom you are interacting. Her manifestation is usually culturally influenced... that is, Her manner of dress, Her race, and the language She speaks will be appropriate to the dreamer. The communication may even be purely auditory... but there is no mistaking the source.
Another noteworthy aspect of the dream is that the message is always very plain and clear, and does not require any complex interpretation. It is often an answer to a question that we have asked, or some other important advice.
In terms of how we may pose a specific question to the Goddess, one method which seems to work fairly well is to do some meditation just before bed. After clearing your mind, concentrate on the question for a few minutes, then simply go to sleep. If a response is not forthcoming on the first night, it will be necessary to repeat the proceedure. The delay could be caused by a certain lack of skill on your part, or some external factor which is beyond your control.
I recommend that you keep a journal or diary of the dreams which you believe may be of significance, or involve the Goddess. Sometimes these events have a long-term pattern that only becomes apparent when we review them later.
Finally, let's talk briefly about waking visions. As with other types of metaphysical experiences, it takes some skill to distinguish them from natural events.
Some visions may seem like nothing more than a premonition, or a sort of day-dream... or they may be far more dramatic and obvious. Typically, they will contain information of an important nature... perhaps even an urgent warning. Naturally, we should always be attentive to such things.
Since they occur during the waking state, we have the ability to react immediately to these sort of communications, if necessary. In fact, we should make it a point to carry a few items that we think might come in handy in an unexpected critical situation. I always carry a medicine bag, and some small multi-purpose tools.
In order to be most receptive to experiences such as these, you should strive to be at peace with yourself, and maintain good general health through proper diet and exercise, and by getting adequate regular sleep. In addition, you should avoid substances that could reduce your psychic sensitivity, such as prescription medications, allergy pills, recreational drugs, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. It is also well-known that meat contains certain chemicals that adversely affect us. Eating vegetarian food is not only more physically healthy, but also results in greater clarity of mind, and improved psychic sensitivity.