2011 Australian Goddess Conference ‘Resonating with the Earth Mother’
After so many months of preparation the 2011 Australian Goddess Conference ‘resonating with the Earth Mother’ arrived. We built the temple, hung the Goddess banners, built the elemental altars and began. The inspiring Kathy Jones came to do a workshop on the set up day. I sat mesmerised as I learnt about the Morgan’s behind the mists and the development of the Mothers wheel in the sacred isle that is Avalon. Kathy spoke of people being struck with inspiration and then crashing into the dark mother when entering the land of Avalon. Suddenly my crash that followed my dance and deep connection on the Tor made sense. SHE had pulled me into being, stripped me bare, first to show me the beauty and magick of Avalon, then to show me the pain that I needed to heal.
I felt a sense of joy sitting next to Gede Palmer. Feeling his love of the Earth Mother flowing through his body as we chanted and sung. Knowing my friend Jack was outside the room building altars for Her. Both men of deep connection with our Earth Mother, men who finally could be part of celebrating together. I listened to the circle of women introducing themselves, talking about being this circle with their sisters over and over again. I felt a level of invisibility fall over Gede and a twist form in my stomach that was hard to give voice to. I have read the surveys over years calling for men to be present, ‘where are our sacred sons?’ ‘Why isn’t GAIA a whole community?’ ‘Why am I forced to travel this wonderful path of the Goddess and leave my partner behind?’ …Yet here we are, only a few men here, but an invisibility remains over their presence. I find my mind drifting with trepidation for what will come of this weekend. The members have asked for an inclusive open community…but I find myself wondering are they really ready for it?
On the first day everyone is buzzing outside the temple…The board members are all tense. So much preparation, weekend meetings, combined with lack of sleep and a registration line now running out the door. I want to so much to connect with them before ceremony, we are about the cast circle and begin this journey…but I can’t even get near them. I try and centre myself for ceremony and just as my energy feels like it is going a million different directions Aunty Ruby Rose taps me on the shoulder. I burst into tears with the love of seeing her. Powerful Elder and grandmother of this land, with such gentle heart. She asks to sing the ancestors before we begin our ceremonies. We walk to each altar, she sings, and the sound of her clap sticks centres my spirit. She whispers some gentle words of support, she offers words from the ancestors about tonight’s ceremony, then like the sweet gentle wind she disappears again.
Anique Radiant Heart sings us into circle and we walk into the place of the Earth Mother. I welcome everyone and the elemental Priestesses call the elements with passion. Everyone sings and women walk around blessing everyone with the elements, smudging, ochres, water blessings and fire bowls fill the space. The sacred dance to the Bee Goddess then buzzes through the circle. After working in our groves we sing the Earth is our mother and end in high celebration.
On Friday I do two workshops, Kathy Jones workshop that connects us to Avalon and Gede Palmer and Jane Meredith’s workshop…stepping through the boundaries. Kathy inspires me as I see the whole community, men, women, children all in joy and celebration of the Earth Mother. We see art installations, political activism, ritual, music and joy celebrated in Avalon. She talks about the flame of Avalon and what it has meant for the community over time….mmmmm I ponder on tonight’s ritual to come. What will come of our Australian flame? Now just sparks in this space…
In Jane and Gede’s workshop I find a familiar rhythm of music and the beat of the Earth. Gedes poetry hits me at my core and sends my spirit soaring. Jane’s Earth breath inspires me…to breathe out…is the Earth breathing in…to breath in…is Her breathing out. This circular flow and rhythm speaks to me…I find myself connecting even in a place where I usually hold back from this type of work.
Friday nights ceremonies begin….I talk about the creation of the fame of Australia. Created from a spark from the Sun at Spring Equinox, sparked onto gum leaves, surrounded by birds, with respect for the Law of this land and then connected to the flame of Bridget in Ireland. I talk of the ancient traditions of sharing the flame and light of the Goddess. A practice that is thousands of years old and is being re-lit all around the world. I talk about my discussions with Aunty Ruby about wanting to bring this flame here and chant it to life with the power of the community. She gently redirects me to a place of silence. She has told me not to start a new flame- but rather reach back into the ancient wisdoms of this land and these ancestors…she has spoken about the power of silence. Grandmother Bilawara Lee has also spoken about walking gently on the Earth.
We all sit in circle, in our own way we give thanks to the Earth Mother of this ancient land and to the Indigenous people of this nation that have cared for her since the beginning of time. Then we ask for the ancestors blessings into the flame of Australia. The claps sticks beat next to me, and there is a strong energy flow through us, between us and within us. Bilawara and I walk around the circle and people offer a word under their breath, a gift for the flame. So softly whispered only I can hear each person, yet almost everyone says the same word. Such beautiful love and intent from so many, my heart is wide open. Jane Meredith then leads us in creating the energies of this landscape. Then I place the elements of this country in the centre of the circle. Kathy Jones enters, the Lady of Avalon walking into our mists. She mixes our earth, with the Earth of Avalon, she mixes our water, with the waters of Avalon, she mixes air from a jar and then lights the flame of Avalon candle. She adds the flame of Avalon to our Australian flame and then takes a candle to light our Australian flame in the Glastonbury Goddess Temple next week. With this sacred alchemy, we are one, with this sacred alchemy our lands connect through time and place. We all chant …deep in the earth I go, deep into the Earth know…as we all mark ourselves with the magick of this alchemy and all collect a light from this powerful flame.
I miss most of the Saturday morning ritual while I comfort a baby that just woke up and really didn’t want to be dragged into a group of 120 people. So I sit in the gardens (against a tree avoiding the swooping magpies) and wait for the morning break. I manage to see a little of Dani’s dancing the elements into the mornings circle and then Tricia and Kathy talk about Goddess imagery in this country and beyond. The day is filled with amazing presenters, room changes, workshops moving, going overtime, late caterers and I try to remember to breathe while everyone comes running at us expecting instant answers. I am grateful that tonight is concert night - time to let off steam.
Anique sings the songs of Goddess, Shekhinah Morgan memorises with her dance, Ganga sings with such beauty, Sue Gee cracks me up with amazing songs about paganism, Wendy Rule shakes the walls and every cell of our bodies with her voice, and then Laura doe Harris comes onto the stage…Hollie B leans over and says have you seen her before? No I say quite casually- not quite ready for a giant vulva to walk on stage and start talking to me. Laughter of so many turned to hysterical tears of joy. My almost 2 year old watches the dancing singing vulva for a moment, quite seriously…then decides to just start some wild baby dancing. She finds a toddler and they runs up and down the aisles skipping and a dancing together until the end of the night.
As always the third day of conference is one of reflection. The morning workshops are on…yet several women sit under trees staring into the distance. I check in with a few people I know and talk to some of my oakwillow students sitting out in the gardens. I get the same answer…yes I am REALLY good, this is the first weekend I can remember I have had time for me, time to think, time to dream, just to be. The busyness of the first days have passed and now is the time of peace. A friend of mine who is a well-known Indigenous artist is sitting in the gardens sketching ideas for the first time in a long time. It is nice to see the calmness flowing over the space now.
As the calm fills the space and people sit in joy of what they have experienced. I realise that every community has bumps along the way, especially during times of growth and change, that’s part of honouring and celebrating the diversity that we are. Perhaps my queer identity helps me sit more comfortably with diversity and lack of consensus? Change is forever here…it just is… But beyond our differences, we all have a love of the Earth Mother, and she has resonated strongly in my heart this weekend. It is this love that we share that will be the grounding of this Goddess community. This will help continue to build it into a space where everything and everyone that holds that love can celebrate in great joy with us for years to come. We all come to the Earth Mother in our own diverse ways, as it should be…and while this song hold many harmonies, in our hearts we all hold her flame.
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