2011 Daughters of The Goddess Spiral Dance
Leilani, the Presiding Priestess of the Daughters of the Goddess, invited COG members Panthera, Melakore, and me to attend the 13th celebration of their annual ritual, the Daughters of the Goddess Spiral Dance, Friday night, October 26 at the Masonic Hall in Orinda. It was well-attended—about 150 to 200 women were there, and the crowd was ethnically diverse and multicultural. There was also a small Crafts Fair in the lobby and front patio of the site.
I went to a table where two African-American women were selling herbal creams and oils and chatted with them– they were wearing white and alekes, and knowing of the friendship between Leilani and Luisah Teish, I asked them if they were part of Teish’s house. They said no, they were from theKemeticChurch the Kindred of ShiEndra, and others from their group were there to do the drumming for the event. The drumming WAS very nice and gave the event a rhythmic strength– most of the other sound was from the humming or chanting of the crowd.
We were asked to arrive in time for a 7pm start, but it seemed that Dianics also have issues with Pagan Standard Time– between the Crafts Fair and the preliminary drumming, women and small children were dancing until8 pm, when things were finally called to order. It is possible that this was a planned delay, since Luisah Teish, one of the rituals presiding priestesses, had had problems in connecting with her ride. Finally she arrived, and the ritual started. The room’s walls were lined with chairs, there was a candlelit central altar for the ancestors, and at the North end of the room, under the proscenium arch of the stage, there was a wall covered with photographs of famous and pioneering women. Under this was a large table piled with white tulle and tiny sparkling strings of lights, where the attendees were invited to place pictures of their ancestors (male and female) and personal heroines. The edge of the stage was marked with pentacle- and moon-carved pumpkins and candles, partly to keep those visiting the ancestors’ table from coming too close to the edge of the stage. It was very lovely, as most ancestor altars seem to be–people always put a lot of love and care into them.
A circle was never formally cast, apart from the circle of women holding hands. We turned to the Quarters, and Priestesses invoked the Elements. Then followed a lengthy chanting of “We All Come from the Goddess,” during which we were encouraged to add Hula hand motions (Leilani is Hawaiian) to accent the words of the chant. Following this, Leilani addressed us, saying it was time to give our admiration to the Crones in our gathering. All the women who had passed through menopause were asked to gather at the South, and join into groups of three. They were then sent dancing deosil around the circle, and their names were announced as they passed Leilani in the North of the circle. They continued dancing around the circle until they reached the South, and the next group was started. We chanted “Ooo-ooo, love and respect to you.” It seemed to me that the staging of this could have been changed slightly to allow things to move a bit faster. After this, Teish led a section in which a wireless mic was passed around the crowd and each person who wished spoke the names of their Beloved Dead. After each person spoke, the crowd responded with an African chant, “Egun Rae-o. Egun-gun rae rae-o.” After this, Leilani did a Hula dedicated to the Ancestors to a recorded version of ”Wind Beneath my Wings.” It sounds strange, but it worked. By this time it was nearlyten o’clock, and there was an intermission for people to buy refreshments in the courtyard.
At a little after10:30we re-formed in three circles to start the Spiral Dance. As people passed Leilani, they called out above the chanting crowd what they were raising energy for, and Leilani announced in the microphone, “we are dancing for abundance.. peace…an end to hunger…” this was a high energy part of the ritual, and raised a lot of power. It was energetic, inspiring, and full of good wishes for the New Year. The Spiral wove back and forth four times before the energy was grounded, the Quarters and Ancestors and the Goddess were all thanked, and we all started for home. It was about11:30. I was beat.
We enjoyed attending a ritual different from our own traditions. Everyone was very nice to us. What was strange to me—I’ve been active in the Bay Area Pagan community for over thirty years– is that of the nearly 200 women there, I only knew a handful. One of them told me that many women from the Elderflower Festival come to this event–not all of whom were Leilani’s students or trained Priestesses. But it was an experience for me akin to being a newcomer at a large event. Everyone I met was friendly, gracious, and welcoming. I hope that our own organizations would be as welcoming to strangers. –Runach
If you are a woman interested in practicing or studying with the Daughters of the Goddess, you can learn more or read Leilani’s biography at www.DaughtersoftheGoddess.com You can read about the Kemetic church at http://www.mashiaatoloya.com/Bio.html
Runach for PNC Bay Area
Runach is HPs of a Gardnerian coven in BerkeleyCA