As some of you may be aware, I have been an active Melissa for just over a year at the Bristol Goddess Temple, since it opened in August 2017.
Although I am unable to hold space quite so much now, this is still a role that I take very seriously, am sincerely grateful for and is no doubt a greatly pivotal step on my own personal healing journey.
I enjoy meeting every person that comes through its doors when I hold space, more often than not on a Saturday afternoon, as since becoming a humble servant to the Goddess, I have taken a great deal from this role. It has helped me to grow in knowledge and confidence as a person, as a space holder and as a Goddess in my own right; and I know there is still so much more to come from my awakening divinity and path. Connecting to the Goddess has contributed to the flow of clarity, peace and abundance in my life. She has also brought a strong sense of identity and belonging through a deeper connection with nature, source and self.
Like Ruth, who kindly shares her time with us in this month’s guest spot; I have also felt that there was a higher energy from a young age. Something that needed exploring, and for me, for a long time this was something I tried to suppress and something that I considered to be my ‘dark side’ rather than my gift.
In resisting this power, I was in fact delaying my light work, making my path more troublesome, more isolating and possibly it even contributed to my ill health.
That’s because I believe that it’s a deep need within us all to connect with the land, to listen to our internal voice before we listen to the voices of others and to act on every impulse, every instinct and to follow every sign that excites us…. trusting that in doing so we will be universally held and guided to meet our authentic selves.
I’ve always been a bit of a feminist at heart, long before I even knew what that word meant. Learning about the Suffragette movement ignited deep fires within me from a young age. Watching films and reading books shocked me to witness the many fights women have endured over the years, and even in today’s modern world, for equal pay and rights. And I have to admit I was a die-hard Spice Girls fan growing up, largely due to buying into their slogan ‘girl power’, and believing that was the very way in which I should live my life…with a zig a zig ahhh!
Don’t get me wrong, the Goddess collective is not about feminism per-say and there is very much room for men to get involved, but just as my fires were fuelled by anyone from Emmeline Pankhurst to Geri Halliwell, it is about women stepping into their power and no longer hiding in the shadows.
I could talk about this subject for hours now that this part of me is awakening and this divine energy is running through every inch of my being, but this opening paragraph is in a Goddess nutshell really, as this is not my story to tell today. However, the very realisation that I am now a part, albeit small part, of the amazing group of women who head up the Bristol Goddess Temple, excites me beyond words. I feel that this space and this divine movement is part of a collective of women that stir, that are awakening and that are powerful enough to bring about much needed change to this world. To bring back an equality of the sexes and speak the ancestral wisdom of Gaia herself.
Ruth Cogan from the Healing Couch and who is the Mother of Melissa’s (amongst many other valued roles at the Bristol Goddess Temple) kindly joins us in this month’s Guest Corner for a Q&A session about the Goddess. Ruth is a woman and healer who I have come to respect very much. I asked for her to join us this month with a view of sharing her knowledge of the divine with you all and as always to give my readers tools of support and empowerment on their own unique healing journeys.
It’s time to awaken the divine and it’s time to awaken ourselves.
Enjoy this lovely time with Ruth and enjoy the beautiful and awakening month of February everyone. For my male readers, please read on as this blog is very much for men as well as women.
Yours in love and light,
February Guest Corner
Q&A With Ruth Cogan
‘Awakening The Goddess Within’
How did you discover the goddess?
The goddess has always been present in my life since I was very young. I have always been aware of a higher energy, something that makes the world rotate, the earth breathes; something that makes the clouds scuttle past when you’re lying on your back looking up at the sky on the side of a mountain. I was always walking around with a fishnet when I was a child, scooping around in the ponds looking for things, just being in total awe of the world, and I knew that there was more to it. What brought her back into my consciousness was when I was slightly post-menopausal, as this is a time when I think you start to take stock. My children were no longer with me, having grown up and leading their own lives, and I started to question my role in life. I was walking the dog one day, on the land we were renting in Alabama for a time, and all about me was solitude and peacefulness. I stood there and it was like She had just gone back into my heart and said ‘do you remember those conversations we used to have, well I’m still here and I’m waiting for you to reconnect. I’ve got so much I need you to do so don’t feel sorry for yourself or start asking yourself too many questions. I’m waiting for you to step into your true self”. When I came back to the UK, I started reading more, looking at Pagan websites looking for groups and I began to think this was exciting, that there was something in this and I wanted to explore more and to train. I trained in Swedish massage, then I did crystal healing therapy and from that moment I thought ‘there is so much more to this’, there were more questions than I could answer. My daughter took me to Glastonbury for the first time, and I picked up leaflets and heard the goddess voice everywhere. It’s just been a succession of one thing leading to another, and then a link leading to something else and it’s evolved from there.
What does the goddess mean to you?
To me, she means heart to heart connection. She means helping to heal the world. She means bringing back the power of womankind and woman hood. She means dealing with the harm that’s been done for centuries and hopefully bringing man and woman back together in synchronicity, empowering women. I think once women realise their power again, there will be a softer coming together and wars will be blown out of the human psyche. There is a lot of work to be done, so we all have to gather our skirts and go with the movement.
Is the goddess only for women?
Absolutely not. The goddess speaks to everybody in their hearts, minds and higher selves. She has been there since man probably started forming the very first words and thought processes with themselves.
How can people incorporate the goddess into their everyday lives?
It takes practice. It takes a little bit of stepping outside of yourself and accepting that there is higher energy, higher connection and incorporating a connection with her in your daily life. For priestesses it’s a dedication of daily devotional practice, because we are the ones spreading the message of the divine feminine, so we need to practice what we preach. For individuals, I think its about gratitude and not doubting oneself all the time. It can be as easy as spending a few minutes saying a few words to her, in the morning when you’re fresh and before you walk out the door and face the world. “Lady, Goddess, a goddess’s name”, however you tune in or wish to relate to that feminine energy and just do that everyday. It could be as simple as a wink in the mirror when you’re brushing your teeth, or daily affirmations.
Does the goddess symbolise a particular religion or faith?
No, I believe historically awareness of Goddess goes back to when man could first fashion a word or a tool. When man recognised there was a change in the seasons and the phases of the moon. To be closer to goddess you don’t need to follow a particular path, its more about looking inward, and community. Goddess is all encompassing, she can be in a person as much as she can be in a stone on the ground, or a tree in the wood.
What is the Bristol Goddess Temple?
It grew from a seed of an idea. From regular meetings that were happening already such as a Moon Lodge and a drumming circle particularly for women; giving women a sacred safe space to give, to share, to learn, to experience, to craft, to go out in nature and just to connect and communicate. We realised we were attracting a particular kind of woman and a community was forming. Two of us had trained in Glastonbury in the Avalon tradition, and acquired priestess status, so we had the skills and ability to encourage people to find a different way to be and to connect. We came up with the idea as the room became available in Warmley, Bristol.
What is your role at the Bristol Goddess Temple?
My role is a temple weaver. The weaver is a term to express the core group of organisers, or committee if you like. I am also Melissa Mother, so I am the person who trains and coordinates the volunteers who step forward to donate their time to ensure that the temple is open on designated days. I like to get involved with decorating the temple at the changing of the wheel, so a temple dresser if you like. I make the incense and oils for the temple, which are used to smudge and clear auras. I like to Melissa myself, and I also run the monthly New Moon healing sessions. In my role as priestess healer, I channel the healing energy of the Goddess on the evenings of the new moon.
You are one of the few, if not only, goddess temples to have a male alter, what is this for?
This is to acknowledge the need for balance. The goddess needs her consort, just as the moon needs the sun to shine. We debated this for a long time, and because we felt Bristol was such a diverse pagan community, it would be irresponsible not to express the sacred male divinity as much as the female aspect. It felt right. I loved dressing his altar, and I love connecting with him. To me, he is all about the sun, earth and energy. The particular altar picture in this space is the Lord of the Wildwood, but similarly to the goddess altars, you can connect to whatever the male aspect means for you. Natural aspects such as bones and wood are used on this altar.
Do you personally have a favourite goddess and why?
Yes, my favourite Goddess is Danu. I am training to be a priestess of Cerridwen, and I also work with Bridget’s energy. She is very bright and represents fire, crafts and healing, which again appeals to my craft work, my bead and woodwork along with making the incense and oils for the temple. Working with the energy of Cerridwen prepares you for the darker episodes of life, as well as learning a great deal about the life source in herbs, trees and crystals. I believe Danu was really the first goddess I recognised the energy of, the one who first connected with me in voice, and said ‘now all your mothering is out the way etc, I’m calling you back into the fold as we have work for you’ and I think she was the one who really set me upon my path. I am definitely moved more towards the Celtic goddesses as opposed to a lot of the other pantheons. The triple goddess for me is symbolised with Bridget, Danu and Cerridwen.
What are the benefits of connecting to the divine/goddess?
Connecting to goddess helps to ground you as a person. It takes a lot of internal work, and helps to connect you to each other, to the earth that we walk on and share the abundance and beauty. It helps us to feel elevated and enlightened and to remember; because we all have past lives even though we may not all be aware of them, and to connect to our higher self. The way I see it is what exists within us is our spirit, the essence of us that keeps us going, that brings us back from pain and wounding, the aspect of us that the world sees. Whereas our soul is our higher self. Our soul and spirit connect to each other, so we need to connect to our higher self in order to understand energies that are higher than ourselves. The energy that flows within us comes from one source and is what connects us all, and we are reminded to step back and breath, smell the roses from time to time, and connecting to the goddess encourages us to do this.
Can anyone become a Melissa?
Anyone who is hungry to learn and grow and has the time and feel they can hold space, in terms of giving the right energy, keeping the temple space calm and peaceful. It’s important to be a good ear and be respectful of people’s needs, because you will get all sorts of people in all sorts of states come through the door. You need to be patient and reliable, because there is an element of trust. You don’t need to be an expert in goddess stories but acknowledging that there will be a difference in people’s faith and beliefs, so you need to enable the space to be open and equal for everyone.
For anyone interested in connecting to the goddess after reading this blog, what is a good place for them to start?
There are loads and loads of books out there on goddess and goddess energy and mythology. Books are a good place to start for knowledge but connecting to goddess comes from going out onto the land, you have to go on walks, you have to sit with your back against a tree and feel the sun or the moon on your face. You have to tune into and experience the changing of the seasons. Things will come to you when you feel like you are getting it right. Join workshops, groups, talks, even FB groups – when someone posts something that feels interesting or ignites a spark within you then act on it, follow the link and explore. The internet has been such a bonus for the pagan communities over the last 10/20 years as its brought access to groups and events. Meeting in scared places such as Avebury, Stanton Drew and Stonehenge with like-minded people, will encourage discussion and sharing of information about groups and events that you can join and develop your path.
Ruth runs a part time business called ‘The Healing Couch’, offering Swedish massage, Indian head massage, crystal healing, hot stone massage and Reiki. Ruth also offers priestess healing, which is predominantly holistic healing using an intuitive tool-set alongside Goddess energy (using Ruth as a channel). Ruth can provide mobile services and a base at the Bristol Goddess Temple, by prior arrangement. You can contact Ruth by emailfor more information or to discuss an appointment.
The Bristol Goddess Temple is currently open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, with extended hours over yule. It also runs regular circles and events and is growing all the time, with lots of plans for the new year. The Bristol Goddess Temple is passionate about its Bristol heritage and is working hard to provide a space for local craft people. The temple weavers are planning to research the Goddesses of the wider Bristol and Avon region, looking to expand on the Avalonian tradition, sourcing Goddesses relevant for the area. You can visit Bristol Goddess Temple’s Facebook page for event details and opening hours here
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