I just wanted to give a grateful shout-out to Thalia, who really made me think about some things in relation to my last post. Some of what she sparked off in my mind has really left me reeling--in a good way.
A long time ago I read this horrible novel about Witches that started off fairly accurately; a woman found herself drawn to the Craft, and initiated into a coven. The depiction of ritual and Wiccan belief was fairly well represented, which is still a rarity in fiction. (I may do a post here in the near future about accurate representations of Paganism in fiction--note to self.) The problem came when the protagonist discovered two of the coven members, a brother and sister, were having sex, and she decided it was her responsibility to tell everyone in the damned world. So, what started out as a decent book about Witches decided to link Wicca and incest. Great, right? It gets better. At some point the protagnist is raped by another covener--does she call the police? Does she leave the group? No, she calls it a "gift of the Dark Goddess." Eventually she is forced to leave the coven and never practices again, because she "broke the cardinal rule of the religion, 'harm none.'"
I could go on for a year about everything that's wrong with that, but the thing that stuck out worst to me was "gift of the Dark Goddess." The thought of being raped as a gift made me so angry I actually threw the book across the room, and this was years before I knew just how disgusting a comparision it was.
I was rereading my last post in response to a comment I received on it, and I found myself having a similar feeling.
I realize I haven't been totally forthcoming with exactly what went on last year between me and Lilith, so here's the gist. I had done several Drawing Downs of Her, and they were extremely intense, but I never have much memory of aspecting so the main issue was the energy drain. Most of the time Drawing Down isn't done for yourself so much as for the people in Circle with you, anyway. (That's purely my experience.) It sometimes took me several days to recover. Gradually I started having moments when She would slip into my body uninvited during other rituals, but still in sacred space with an altar dedicated to Her, so I wasn't too offended.
Then, the night of my 30th birthday party, while I was drunk out of my mind, She commandeered my body, sent me writhing and babbling to the sofa, and scared the bejesus out of all my friends. This was not in Circle, not with an invitation, and not okay. My defenses were down and I was supposed to be celebrating my life with my friends, not sobbing into a pillow. At the time I remember one of the attendees being angry at Lilith for what She was doing, and I thought, "why?" I figured, I had put myself on this path, and opened the door--
Yeah. I was asking for it, right? Look at my tattoo. Look at the altar. Look how I was dressed. If you walk around town in a short skirt, what do you expect? You're totally asking for it. That woman they stoned to death in Afghanistan for showing her ankles was totally asking for it--what does she expect, enflaming men's passions like that? Girls who don't want it don't walk around looking like that. She deserved it, Your Honor. Who can blame a guy for thinking that was an invitation? She's my wife! I have a right to do what I want as her husband!
We live in a culture where it's assumed that women give consent until we actively withdraw it. The fact that you have to say NO means that the default answer is YES. Not only is this bullshit acceptable between men and women, it's encouraged between humans and God. I was raised to "fear God." God was a terrible force that would destroy entire cities based on their sexual preferences and cast the children He was supposed to love into hell for not believing in Him.
I became a Pagan because of the Goddess. I longed for a god who looked like me, to whose image I could relate, who didn't demand my subservience because of my vagina. I wanted to choose to serve Deity not out of fear of some dreadful consequence, but out of love.
I recently started up a small, informal group of Wiccans whose intention is to meet up once or twice a month to do rituals, study, talk, and basically be Pagan together, with no coven commitment and no set structure. Last night we had our first group ritual, a combination pre-Samhain/pre-Full Moon (scheduling is a motherbear this time of year) where we released into the fire the things from this past year that we feel ready to be rid of. One of the things I burned was fear.
It wasn't until today that I realized the full import of both my actions in the ritual and my words in my last post. I wrote that I am afraid of Lilith. I banished fear. I wrote that this year has been a dark and harrowing initiation preparing me for something I still can't name. The sudden understanding that I had today is that this is completely true--but that where I go from here will not be forced on me by an aspect of Deity that frightens me. I am through serving a god I fear. I did that my whole childhood.
Perhaps that's what Lilith intended, for me to outgrow Her. That's actually perfectly in keeping with Her way of doing things.
Regardless, I have decided that Hers is not the path I want to continue on. I no longer believe that the path of Ahimsa that I want to walk and the path of Lilith are compatible for me. I will be powerful in a way that doesn't involve violation and dread. I have said before that I must find compassion for myself--I think the first step is charting a new course, and serving the Goddess the way that feels both right and beautiful, not the way that I blunder into when I get in over my head.
I am not ignorant of darkness and I am not naive. I am not a fluffy glitter-sparkle Witch who thinks the Goddess is all sunshine and bunny farts. I have seen the shadow and I have walked the Underworld.
And you know what? I'm done.
The serpent will always be a part of me.
But so is the phoenix.
It's time to stop crawling and fly.
(Although I still want to be Ani DiFranco when I grow up.)