|Publisher:||New World Library|
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Long before the holy feminine's voice arises from the depths of a woman's soft belly and demands to be heard — before she claims the name Witch, wild woman, fire-keeper, or any other designation that speaks to her spiritual autonomy — she side-eyes the parts of her world that no longer suit the truth-telling Priestess she is becoming. She outgrows her too-small life. She takes an ongoing inventory of the subtle hints and cosmic winks she is receiving from nature, her body, and the unmapped terrain of her psyche. Perhaps the first chill autumn wind becomes an invitation to wander long toward the sinking sun, or the swelling, in-the-heart joy sparked by the songs of night birds in a spring woodland elicits a permanent and unquenchable thirst for the wilds. The lived experience of the earth element is unique to every woman, but it is always marked by a persistent beckoning to come home to a more ancient version of herself, to escape from the overnarrowed and conventional life she had been living, and to seek authenticity more than approval.
There is a part of you, my love, that remembers not only your own hands in the dirt during childhood but the knowing hands of your grandmothers and their grandmothers as they planted their own seeds and connected to their own lands. There is a part of you that is in a relationship with the earth element that most certainly mirrors an intimacy shared with someone else in your bloodline; the kinship she felt with the ground, the wounds of her roots, the way she kept her home, her underworld fears, and the shape of her body are all very like yours. You may not know who she was, but her story is your story. The bond a woman feels with earth runs in the blood, and to rekindle the intimacy with the land is her birthright, her wild inheritance, and her destined mandate.
In this chapter of Earth Verses, I ask you to envision yourself encircled by your ancestors as you read. Consider how the themes of women's rebellion against injustice, tasting the forbidden fruit, sacred solitude in nature, and coming home to the wilds may have been suppressed throughout his-story, and consider how these forces have ebbed and flowed in your own personal myth of awakening. Know your story as fluid and shape-shifting, and honor the shadowy parts of your soul that may have been called wicked or shameful as precious gifts, holy in their own right and divine in their darkness, that now allow you to become the woman you needed when you were younger.
THE PRIESTESS OF THE WILD EARTH ARCHETYPE: MEETING THE SOVEREIGN MAIDEN
In our personal epic stories of wounding and healing, wandering and homecoming, confinement and escape, there is always a pivotal moment when a choice that seems to determine our destiny is made. In tales that reflect aspects of the Priestess of the Wild Earth archetype, that choice is often to flee, to break free from the ties that bind the body and soul to someone else's expectations and seek out a truer, wilder home. In that moment within the everyday life of a woman, a fleeting glimpse of infinite possibility is often offered up straight from the Holy Wild herself, a sacred and earthly nod that seems to answer the very question that has been twisting in her gut for a time: What do I believe my soul truly desires, knowing all that I know of myself now, in this moment of initiation? The answer is always authenticity, the chance to freely live out the most genuine version of herself she can.
We are all of the Earth, and she will always be calling us home to our cyclical nature and our genuine feminine power. The budding Witch may have grown weary of adhering rigidly to a loved one's notions of acceptable spirituality, and, on one fateful evening, a milk-white moonbeam melts her fear of being seen. She is the Priestess of the Wild Earth. The young artist holds and examines a scarred rose petal, suddenly finding the encouragement to pursue a more rebellious dream than that which her parents held for her. She is the Priestess of the Wild Earth. The fragile lover decides to leave a relationship that crushes her spirit every day, having been granted permission by a low-rumbling thunderstorm. She is the Priestess of the Wild Earth. She is Lilith, and so are you.
Lilith's story, in all its many variations, distortions, and interpretations, is a tale of the too-small life outgrown and a more soulful selfhood embraced. We begin here, with her, not because she is the embodiment of the grounded, enduring feminine and not because she is a beacon of warmth, grace, and solace. By contrast, Lilith is the rootless Maiden, the one whose very identity is defined not by who she knows she is but by who she knows she is not. We begin with Lilith because her myths are those of resistance to all that cages, all that separates us from our heathen nature and unmasked individuality. The earth element is where we stand firm in nothing but our authenticity, having ascended from the underworld of other people's expectations, and Lilith is the ancient embodiment of feminist rebellion and radical sovereignty.
Lilith's story begins in Sumerian myth, where she is handmaiden to Inanna, a supportive force to the great Goddess of sexual mysteries and underworld initiation. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, inscribed as early as 2000 BCE, Lilith has taken up residence in a willow tree, refusing to leave even when her mistress, Inanna, asks her to do so in order to harvest the tree's wood. The hero in the tale directs his men to cut down the tree, and Lilith flees into the wilds. In later Hebrew texts, Lilith is the demoness, the first wife of Adam who refused to "lie below" her husband and was consequently sent into exile from the Garden of Eden. Lilith is the rebel queen without a king, sovereign and whole unto herself but rejected for her independence. In Mysteries of the Dark Moon, Demetra George writes that Lilith "chose a lifetime of exile in a desert cave on the shores of the Red Sea rather than one of subjugation." Lilith is punished, shamed for desiring equality and recognizing the injustices of the garden, and becomes the licentious succubus in later texts, her name used as a twisted teaching tool to denigrate disobedient, sinful women who did not abide by the laws that would confine them.
Lilith's liberation from the garden can be compared to Inanna's return journey from the underworld in Sumerian mythology or the ascent of Persephone-Kore in ancient Greek lore. The holy feminine longs for liberation and willingly risks much in the name of freedom, with Dark Goddess mythology commonly illustrating the feminine's ability to destroy all worlds too small for her. Energetic embodiment of the Priestess of the Wild Earth means acknowledging the parts of your story similar to those of other divine feminine archetypes who were necessarily trapped for a time, sought liberation, and eventually freed themselves from seemingly inescapable cages. In effect, the garden is a particular hell disguised as a utopia, an Eden of masks and half-truths, but the wild woman can endure only so much illusion before her soul's howled demands for truth grow too loud to be ignored.
Like Lilith, both Persephone-Kore and Inanna have had their stories appropriated by patriarchy. Just as Lilith's story becomes one of empowerment and liberation in its feminist interpretation, Persephone-Kore, often conventionally cast as the victimized, vulnerable daughter who was abducted by Hades with her mother's permission and forced to remain in the underworld for six months out of every year, can be viewed as a wise underworld guide. In prepatriarchal versions of her myth, Persephone-Kore is an empowered Maiden who, having been to the depths of hell, now descends and ascends willingly and regularly in order to move in rhythm with the natural world and receive the spirits of the dead. Inanna's mythic journey, plunging into the depths of the underworld and stripping herself of all her protections so she may face her psychic beasts, is really a tale of shadow integration, of the agonizing process of descent and soul retrieval that is the very essence of spiritual growth. All three Goddesses have been initiated into the soulful wilds through a great wounding, a severance from all they had been, and all three Goddesses understand the merit of both rebellion and sacrifice in the name of autonomy.
The Priestess of the Wild Earth archetype embodies the empowered energies of Lilith, Persephone-Kore, and Inanna. She is entirely free from the story that caged her. She does not define herself any longer by her too-small life. She has been to hell and back again, and she has brewed her own salve for the wounds she acquired during those dark nights of the soul. She owns her scars without overidentifying with these past hurts, without needing absolution from any sky-housed deity who does not care to truly know her. In Aphrodite's Daughters, Jalaja Bonheim writes that "the resurrected goddess does not ascend to heaven, but triumphantly returns to her people, very much physically alive, and laden with precious gifts of insight, vision, power, and compassion." She is made more authentic for her ability to sit with her unsettled her-story, and she is so whole unto herself that she carries her own wild home with her, regardless of what pitfalls may lie ahead on her journey away from Eden.
Prayer of the Underworld Goddess Returned: My Muddy Wings Are Wide
Dearest Dark Goddess who is me,
I have come to a point in my healing, my ascent, where I will no longer apologize for who I am or who I used to be. My black demoness wings are wide, and I have risen against the sandstorm of those who think me wicked. I have erupted from the ground like a newborn phoenix covered in an afterbirth of mud and ash.
This is me, and I have survived my birth by fire. My hair is knotted, and my cheeks are stained with the tears of lost innocence and bitter disdain. I am untying the knots that kept me tethered to a life I did not want, to names I did not want to be called, and to the notion that a woman is an unchanging, steady touchstone for all who need her.
My name is Lilith, and I am not a teaching tool. The forbidden fruit was seductive truth contained in fine apple skin, and I have sucked every bit of succulent juice from that gift. I have looked into the snake's shiny scales and scried my future. I have been called every shameful name ever spit from the lips of a bully, and I have let those labels roll from my back like water on feathers.
My name is Inanna, and I am still alive. These are not the musings of a whimsical poetess. These are the hellish hymns I learned from the ancients, and I speak the Mother Tongue of the anguished feminine. I know the way down, but I've learned to love the feel of sunlight on my bare breasts.
My name is Persephone, and I will not be dragged into my depths; I go there willingly, wearing my protection totems and singing my own praises. I go there to lead others out, and I am the holy healer returned, righteous, and resurrected. I am the primal feminine dark, the unruined Maiden, and the Priestess of fertile ground.
Blessed be my infinite worth, and blessed be the Holy Wild.
* * *
Parable of Eden's Lost Heroine: Revisioning Lilith
For all her wisdom, Lilith could not understand why this precious garden, this manicured and flawless landscape that once dazzled her with its fairy-tale beauty, now appeared so fake and fragile. She was sure the brilliant-green grasses were painted and artificial and the flowers were paper and scentless. How had she not noticed this ruse before now?
She knelt at the knotted base of the Tree of Knowledge, the only tree in the garden that smelled of primal bark, blessedly bitter leaves, and dirty roots, the only growing thing she was sure was absolutely real here in this carved-up land. She drank in the heady, earthen scent and caressed the bark, suddenly starved for untamed nature and uncultivated ground. She yearned so deeply for far-reaching trees and soft-bodied creatures; she was homesick for a wild place she had never seen. She knew it existed. She glimpsed this many-colored wilderness in her dreams, but her conscious mind did not yet know the way. Each morning, she woke and wept in the underworld-garden, suffocating under the weight of a life she never chose and hungry for the hearty sustenance of the feminine divine.
Pressing her face to the bark, Lilith whisper-prayed to a Mother Goddess for salvation: "Bless me, Mother, for I will most certainly sin against this too-small life. I yearn so much for a freedom I know I deserve that my belly burns with the wanting. My blood is raging under my skin, willing me forward, and yet I do not know which path to take. I dream of a blood-red road, but I know not how to find it. Mother, show me the way out! I will die if I must stay here, if I must waste more of my precious life among mere fabrications of what I love, if I must obey rules I did not write, spending my days conforming to someone else's notion of perfection. I am consumed by an ache I have no name for, and all I know is that I must leave before this sickness-of-desire ends me."
So consumed with anguish this Wild One was, so certain of her belonging to a wilderness she had never seen, that she failed to notice when a snake slid up her bare back and coiled around her neck. So broken was she, so blinded by a dark and demanding restlessness, that Lilith did not see the gift of the forbidden fruit when it fell to the ground. She did not see it with her eyes, but she felt it in her blood. There was a certain ecstatic electricity buzzing from beneath the apple's red skin that crooned to her like a warm maternal lullaby to a shivering orphan.
The snake continued spiraling around her neck, and Lilith wiped her tears. This soul-food was not fit for feminine consumption, she had been warned. She was breaking one of the rules of this place by simply being here. To eat from the Tree of Knowledge was to know too much, to commit an egregious sin against a wrathful God, but the snake's cool scales were reassuring. She did not look over her shoulder to see whether she was being watched. In that moment, she cared little for what laws had tried to contain her. She hoped quite fervently that she would be seen as she wrapped her shaking fingers around the apple. Heaven help her, she hoped some vengeful deity was looking down as she sunk her teeth deep into pure, sweet passion. She was defiant in the face of her continued captivity, a rebel heathen who was no longer content to stay in this unholy Eden. In this moment, Lilith would risk it all, everything she knew herself to be, for just a taste of the Holy Wild.
"Yes, my serpentine Sister," Lilith hissed. "I beg you forgive the fear that kept my lips from this righteous fruit for so long, that keeps me tethered to a Garden of Lies out of a bone-deep resistance to loneliness. They called me evil, and I believed them. They promised salvation from my sinfulness, and I waited for redemption. All the while, the skeleton key that could unlock every vine-wrapped cage, the sharp blade that could slice through these thin-growing binds of mine, was blooming and bearing beauteous fruit."
This one small meal was Lilith's instantaneous descent into the red realm of soul, a particular and empowered individuality entirely her own. Every time the gritty marrow of the fruit touched her tongue, she caught a glimpse of her destiny. With every hearty swallow, she saw the rainbow shades of her liberated life. This garden-hell, this too-small life, was now completely colorless, devoid of fiery purpose and sensual majesty, but she had not realized it until this moment. Never before had she so clearly known the way out of this lifeless cage, and, sucking the juice from the core, Lilith vowed to seek out a wilder home.
She stood in her own power for the first time since she had been brought to this place, and she howled into the depths of the garden, calling any other living creature to join her in her escape. Uncoiling her scaled companion and looking it square in its black-diamond eyes, Lilith offered the creature heartfelt gratitude and a bone-deep affirmation: "Thank you. We don't belong here." Spreading her black wings wide, Lilith kissed the Tree of Knowledge before taking to the ever-spiraling Red Road, the escape route that had been there for her all along, the homeward path to the wilds.
* * *
BLESSED BE THESE MANY GARDENS: WHERE SHE RIPPED UP HER ROOTS
Blessed be our many gardens. Without such confinements, we would not have known the bliss of wilder ground. The mechanisms of feminine suppression are pervasive and stealthy, and, within the garden that houses a Wild One's too-small life, these limiting forces are the primary shapers of her perception for a time. The rules of the garden may not seem unjust until the awakening begins — but, like Lilith after she tastes the forbidden fruit, a wild woman will refuse to settle for a colorless way of being, viscerally rejecting it, after she has seen the brilliance of a better, brighter way forward.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Holy Wild"
Copyright © 2018 Danielle Dulsky.
Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsIntroduction: Her Genesis
The Book of Earth
1. Earth Verses
The Priestess of the Wild Earth Archetype: Meeting the Sovereign Maiden
Prayer of the Underworld Goddess Returned
Parable of Eden’s Lost Heroine: Revisioning Lilith
Blessed Be These Many Gardens: Where She Ripped Up Her Roots
Rebellion as Reclamation: The Forbidden Fruit of the Wild Feminine
Intiation in Sacred Solitude: Walking the Red Road
Coming Home to the Wilds: Building the Living Altar
Hallowed Be Your Heathen Heart: Toward a More Soulful Joy
2. Earth Rituals
Your Inner Earth Altar: A Ritual for the Everyday Warrioress
Blessing the Forbidden Fruit: A Ritual of Rebellious Nourishment
Repowering the Witch: A Ritual for Healing the Feminine Soul-Wound
The Red Road of Manifestation: A Ritual of Movement Alchemy
Priestess Rising from Ground: A Ritual of Self-Initiation
Inviting Sacred Solitude: A Soul Marriage Ritual for the Too-Much Woman
Bedtime Incantations: A Ritual Prayer for the Pilgrim Priestess
3. Earth Magick
The Lilith Mandala: A Magick Spell for Welcoming What Comes
Pathworking in the Underworld: Meeting the Goddess Below
Body-Prayer of the Shadow: A Moving-Magick Practice of Integration
Earth Reflection and Final Prayer: Embracing the Between Times
The Book of Water
4. Water Verses
The Maiden of the Unbridled Sensual Archetype: Calling Home Authentic Joy
Tale of the Prodigal Temptress: Revisioning Salome
The Holiness of Our Desire: Honoring Our Most Souful Wants
Our Wild Art and Unbridled Sensuality: Embodying the Crone-Mermaid
Freya’s Battle of the Beasts: A Myth for the Brave-Hearted Artist
The Maiden’s Moon: Hope and Longing at the Water’s Edge
5. Water Rituals
The Temple of the Maiden’s Body: Seasonal Rituals for Reclaiming Worth
Sacral Healing through Integration: Ritual Body-Prayers for the Womb
Womb-Dance of the Seven Masks: A Ritual Unveiling
We Belong to the Water: A Ritual of Communion, Cleansing, and Succulence
Divination by Art: A Ritual of Reclaiming Creativity
13-Days of Spiraling Through: A Strategic Ritual Sadhana
Benediction of the Rooted Erotic: A Ritual Morning Prayer of Ferocity
6. Water Magick
Crafting the Cosmic Egg: Manifestation Magick for the Wild Maiden
Our Masterpiece: A Practical Magick Elixir for Creative Stagnation
Dreaming the Maidenscape: A Vision-Tale of Feminine Redemption
Making Holy Water: Evening Blessing Prayer of the Ocean Maiden
Water Reflection and Final Prayer: To She Who Has Worn Many Masks
The Book of Fire
7. Fire Verses
The Prophetess of the Wildfire Archetype: Reclaiming the Flames
Pilgrimage to the Wisdom-Keeper: Revisioning the Mother of Babylon
The Ire of the Priestess: The Merit of Righteous Rage
Promise of the Red-Hooded Prophet: To Those Who Have Spat Upon Me
With This Blood, I Thee Wed: Timely Vows from Earth’s Bride
Mother Magick and Rage’s Transmutation: To Wear the Serpentine Crown
Blessed Be the Hearth-Holding Women: The Heathen’s Right to Rest
8. Fire Rituals
These Guts Are Mine: A Ritual for Healing the Will
Verses of the Beast Within: Ritual Morning Prayer of the Prophetess
This Rage Is Ours: A Communal Ritual of Glorious Validation
Our Shared Crucible: A Ritual of Deep Transmutation
Pyromancy of the Prophetess: A Ritual of Divination by Firelight
Your Rune-Bones: Ritual Divination by Body
Power Proverbs: Spoken Affirmation Rituals for the Holy Heathen
9. Fire Magick
Toward a Truer Magick: Spell-Building for the Willful Witch
Funeral Pyre for What Was: A Magick Spell of Letting Go
Demystifying the Demoness: Pathworking for the Inner Wildling
Vows of Flame-Tending Women: Fire Magick of Voice and Victory
Fire Reflection and Final Prayer: Fanning These Flames
The Book of Air
10. Air Verses
The Witch of Sacred Love Archetype: Waking the Holy Healer
Myth of the Red-Hooded Widow: Revisioning the Magdalene
Stirring the Cauldron of Relationship: Invocation of the Healer-Priestess
The Bare-Bones of a Priestess Circle: Fusing the Joints with Fire and Spit
Healing Salve for the Lonely Witch: Parable of the Lost Sister
Bridge-Lines on the Cosmic Web: Weaving the Way
A Prayer Spoken and a Promise Broken: Vows from One Witch to Another
Sharing Lost Love Stories: The Windswept Memories that Haunt
11. Air Rituals
Body Prayer for the Hardened Heart: A Post-Betrayal Movement Ritual
Harvesting the Hunter: A Ritual to Honor the Sacred Masculine
Rescuing the Mother’s Twin: A Ritual-Mission of Reclaiming Voice
Hearing the Ancient Heartbeat: A Ritual for Mending the Holy Wound
Rekindling the Spiral Flame: A Ritual of Earth Intimacy
Circle-Craft: Communal Rituals for Tuning to the Vibration
12. Air Magick
The Curriculum of the Soul: The Magick of Becoming the Wild Teacher
Meeting the Magdalene: A Pathworking Experience for a Sovereign Woman
To Teach with Grace: A Magick Spell for She Who Is Wise
Rise Up, Jezebel: The Magick of Community
Air Reflection and Final Prayer: Our Heart-to-Spirit Marriage
The Book of Ether
13. Ether Verses
The Queen of the Ethereal Divine Archetype: The Wise Woman Speaks
Tale of a Hunted Witch: Revisioning Jezebel
Memories of the Mystical: The Babe Meets the Crone
No More, For the Hunt Has Ended: Spit-Song of the Crone
Envisioning a New and Wild Truth: To the Next Generation of Wisdom-Keepers
When She Comes Home: A Bedtime Story
For Once, She Is Sure: To Build a Heathen Temple
14. Ether Rituals
Blood-Binding the Spiritual to the Sensual: A Ritual of Embodied Divinity
The Spirit Wakes Wild: A Ritual of Remembrance
The Five Actions of the She-Gods: Ritual Vows for Walking the Heathen Spiral
Feminine Power Lost, Feminine Power Regained: Ritual Drama between Sisters
On the Edges of Joy and Meaning: A Ritual for the Sovereign Prophetess
A Witch’s Weather: A Simple Ritual for the Humble Priestess
15. Ether Magick
A Conversation with the Others: Developing a Practice of Pathworking
Seeing the Feminine Face of God: A Spell to Claim Your Birthright
Shielding the Psychic Warrior: Practical Magick for the Empath
Meeting the One Who Waits: Simple Pathworking for the Wakeful Dreamer
Crone Spells: Handsewn Magick for the Solitary Witch
Ether Reflection and Final Prayer: The Heathen’s Return to the Wilds
Conclusion: Her Revelation
What People are Saying About This
“With conviction, defiance, and a broad, inclusive definition of womanhood, Dulsky. . . calls on women to reconnect with their wild, instinctual feminine power in this poetic yet practical guide of heathen rituals and observances.” — Publishers Weekly “I sank into The Holy Wild like a seed into fertile, warm soil, and I was watered to my roots, shown how to flower, and sung into seeds flying free. Grab this book and savor it. It’s a breathtaking achievement — thorough, practical, and straight from the heart and womb of the Mother.” — Susun Weed, Peace Elder, High Priestess of the Goddess, and author of the Wise Woman Herbal series “Danielle Dulsky has brewed another deliciously soul-gasmic book filled with truth. The Witches are waking, and it is teachers like Danielle that will help guide this wild rising into the depths of realms hidden within us all.” — Juliet Diaz, founder of The School of Witchery “The Holy Wild is [Danielle Dulsky’s] gutsy and glorious offering. . . her unbridled, undomesticated howl at the moon to wake us and shake us all back to our Goddess-given, soul-driven life. Danielle is a heroine who is determined to live her wild, aching truth, and in so doing, she strikes a match in her reader to do the same.” — Sarah Durham Wilson, teacher and writer “Dulsky’s words. . . open us up to the fathomless beauty of the wilds beyond our fences, ritualizing our approach to the Goddess our forebears once banished. This book is holy. This book is a prayer. . . . I invite you to read it.” — from the foreword by Bayo Akomolafe, PhD, author of These Wilds Beyond Our Fences “This book is an untamed, graceful invitation to taste the wild not yet lived. Brave and intimately connected to the gospel of the natural world, it reveals a reemerging path that has often been hidden and overlooked in modern society. It holds medicine for a broken paradigm and common sense for those who desire to live beautifully, empowered and free.” — Tanya Markul, author of The She Book “The Holy Wild inspires us to wear the magnificence that is our true garb and not the unnecessary superficial veils that hide our insecurities, caused by deep wounds. To truly heal and become transformed is the reason for our presence here, and Danielle’s words are a manifesto of this reality.” — Manoshi Chitra Neogy, wolfwomanproductions.org