I wrote Women's Rites, Women's Mysteries as a one-of-a-kind resource guide for the creation and facilitation of Goddess and woman-centered personal and group rituals from beginning to end. During my twenty-seven years as a Dianic Wiccan High Priestess, through teaching classes in Dianic Wiccan tradition, I've consistently found that while women have a great hunger for ritual to reflect the events in their lives, they often don't know how to begin. For many, the very thought of creating meaningful ritual is too intimidating. Indeed, due to patriarchal conditioning, many women wait for others to take the lead, or simply suppress their own needs, desires and dreams to varying degrees. So, we go through our lives physically, emotionally and spiritually unfulfilled. With rituals to mark our life passages, women can "connect the dots," discovering cycles and patterns in what seems like a random series of life events. We can heal ourselves, empower ourselves, shed our old skins and emerge into conscious awareness, creating a new self/reality.
In my book, as in my classes, before the ritual-making process begins, I discuss the overt and covert psychological messages contained in selected socially-sanctioned rituals practiced by a majority of American women today, and how they reinforce the values of the dominant culture. All women share certain physical and psychological experiences and rites of passage that cross the boundaries of age, class, culture, race, sexual orientation and religion. However, I believe we must ascribe our own meaning to the significant events of our lives.
Women's Rites, Women's Mysteries is not a didactic ritual "cookbook" that tells the reader exactly what to do, without explaining the reason or motivation behind a given enactment or symbol. Instead, my goal is to provide you with practical tools. I want you to learn to think like a ritualist. I have observed that when a ritual creation process begins with the structure and ends with the content, the ritual is limited by the structure, rather than the structure supporting the creative content of the ritual. My ritual-making process guides you or your group from the center out, starting with a deep exploration of your need for a specific ritual. You will learn how to explore your ritual's purpose, intuitively gathering sensory information from your deep mind to create the ritual's ambiance, and the core work of the ritual enactments. You'll learn how to create appropriate structure to support the ritual experience you want with a variety of practices for purification, altar creation, raising energy, circle casting and invocation.
Rarely addressed in print before, the book contains chapters on energetics for ritual, how to evaluate your ritual experience and the roles of women called to facilitate ritual. Chapter six, "Energetics for Ritual," delves into the practical aspects of consciously working with energy to intentionally align, support and carry out the ritual's theme. From personal energetic preparation to preparation for group ritual facilitators and participants, I provide practices and suggestions for this important and often overlooked aspect of women's ritual.
Learning how to evaluate ritual, in order to constantly learn and improve, is vital to deepening your skills. Chapter 12, "Every Ritual is a Teacher," covers the roles of ritual facilitators, the skills needed and tips on creating and preparing small or large group rituals open to the public—all this knowledge is invaluable for women who are drawn to providing rituals for others.
I have done my best to give readers what I have learned, created, taught and held sacred for more than thirty years. I chose to conclude my book with historical discussion of the roles and responsibilities of the ritual priestess, from ancient to contemporary times, told from my perspective as a seasoned High Priestess in the Dianic tradition.
It is my hope that through working with my book, women who hear the call of spiritual service will step forward and live out their dreams; that women will create and share sacred moments together, entering the Mysteries of Woman with wonder and awe, always expanding the possibility for deeper meaning in the daily sacredness of being alive. We are the women we've been waiting for!