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Circle Craft: Circle of Goddesses

by Selena Fox

Every Goddess is a facet of the Great Goddess, also known as the All-Goddess, or simply, The Goddess. Each particular Goddess form can show a way of communion and union with the Great Goddess. Each Goddess form has Her own cultural roots, symbols, qualities, forms, lore, and style. Each has Her own lessons to teach. Like threads of different colors, sizes, compositions, and textures, Goddess forms combine to weave a multi-colored tapestry that is the Great Goddess.

The ritual below incorporates work with a variety of Goddesses, as well as the All-Goddess. Since group energy is an essential component, it is not suitable as a solitary rite. The ritual works best with small groups, and between five and thirteen participants is ideal. The ritual can aid in group bonding and development, as well as in the spiritual growth of participants. It also helps the participants and the group as a whole deepen connections with the Goddess as Unity as well as in some of Her many forms.

I developed this ritual through my Circle Craft teaching and group facilitation work with women and men in the 1970s. In the 1980s, it was a regular part of the priestess training that I did through Circle Sanctuary. Over the years, I also have facilitated this ritual at various women’s spirituality conferences and retreats across North America, and for Goddess spirituality groups composed of all women and those with both men and women. For grammatical convenience, I present the ritual here in its form for a women’s Goddess spirituality group. However, by changing pronouns, such as her to her/him, or her to him, this transcript can be adapted for use by groups of women and men and for men’s Goddess spirituality groups.

Everyone in a group that is planning to do this rite should have some previous experience with grounding, centering, and energy raising before doing it. Advance preparation specifically for this rite is also important. Each participant needs to select a suitable Goddess form with which to connect. The group needs to plan how it will do the ritual. And, if the group has not had much experience working together before, it is best to precede the Goddess alignment part of the ritual with additional group chanting, drumming/rhythm making, and/or other group attunement activities.

It is important to choose a suitable location in which to do this rite. The site can be either outside or indoors, but it must be a place where loud chanting and other ritual energy work will not disturb others or cause interference by outsiders. An excellent time to do this ritual is on the night of a Full Moon.

The Ritual

To prepare for the ritual, participants need to make their Goddess selections. Pick a Goddess whose energies and qualities you wish to connect with more fully and manifest more strongly in yourself and in your life. For example, to embody and express more compassion, work with Kuan Yin. To feel more sensuous and attractive, pick Venus, Oshun, Erzulie, or Aphrodite. To aid in creative expression and inspiration, choose Brigid, Sarasvati, or the Greek Muse appropriate to your creative work.

Before the ritual, do some research on the Goddess you have selected, even if you have already formed an alignment with Her. Read about what forms She takes and what symbols are associated with Her. Learn about Her qualities and familiarize yourself with Her legendary actions. Once you have done this, reflect on whether or not it still feels right to work with Her. If not, begin the process again until you find a suitable Goddess with which to work.

Participants should gather together at least an hour before the ritual. After exchanging social greetings, discuss plans for the ritual and make final decisions about ritual format and logistics, such as how to create sacred space, what beginning and ending chants to use, and what ritual items are needed.

When everyone is ready, go to the ritual site. Once there, stand or sit in a circle and do a silent centering meditation, while a purifying incense such as sandalwood, rosemary, cedar, mugwort, or sage is passed around. Each participant should cleanse herself with the incense as well as the area around her. When the incense has gone completely around the circle, it should be placed in the center.

The group next makes sounds together to enhance attunement of the participants with each other. This can be chanting an Aumtogether on a single note, singing a favorite All-Goddess chant, doing improvised chanting, making rhythms together with drums and rattles, or some other group music-making agreed upon in the planning session.

Once the group is attuned, it is time to dedicate the place of the rite as sacred space. The group should do this in its customary manner or in the way decided upon during planning. One common method for creating sacred space is by honoring the sacred directions.

Now, all join hands and stand in a circle facing center. Together, visualize a ring of radiant white light encircling the group. Experience this living circle of light as the Great Goddess, the All-Goddess. Sing a chant together, such as: We are the Circle, We are the Goddess.

Having connected with the Goddess as a whole, it is time to work with different forms of Her. Each participant in turn comes to the center of the circle and speaks the name of her Goddess and the qualities she wants activated within herself. The group responds to each one by chanting the Goddess name and the qualities in an improvised energy chant. As the group chants to her, the person in the center should call to her mind images of her selected Goddess and should feel herself merging and becoming one with the Goddess. Then, when she senses the energy has built enough, she raises her hands skyward to signal the group to peak the energy. The group releases the energy raised into her and falls silent. The person slowly moves her hands to her heart as she drinks in the energy and feels the power of the Goddess flowing throughout her whole being. When she feels complete with this integration, she steps out of the circle, and another person enters the center.

The energy chanting done for each person can take a variety of forms. The person should express her preferences to the group after she steps into the center. The Goddess name and qualities can be whispered, shouted, and/or sung. Group members can take turns chanting the Goddess name and qualities as the chant builds. The chant is enhanced when done as an affirmation, such as "You are Isis, you are strong, you are caring, you are beautiful." Speaking the person’s name as part of these affirmations is especially powerful.

When everyone in the group has taken a turn in the center, it is time to focus on the All-Goddess again. The group joins hands to do a group energy dance. All take two steps inward, while still holding hands, and then several steps backward. This is repeated over and over as a Goddess chant is sung, such as We are the Goddess, Goddess flows through Us. When the group senses it is time to end the chant, all move inward. Instead of holding hands, each places her arms around the backs of the women by her side. This group hug formation helps the group as a whole assimilate the power of the ritual, as well as aids individual members in grounding and centering. While in this position, women speak thanks to the Goddesses they worked with, and the group as a whole gives thanks to the All-Goddess by singing a note in unison.

The group then ends the ritual in its customary or planned manner. Divine forces invoked in creating sacred space are thanked. The circle is uncast. The group departs. It is a good idea to share and consume food and juice at the end of the ritual, since this can help in grounding and the return to waking daily consciousness. Doing some form of post-ritual feasting together also can be a time to share and process experiences with other group members.

Participants should take some time out soon after the ritual is over to record their experiences in their personal journals. They also should pay close attention to their dreams and meditations in the days and weeks following this ritual, since they often are vehicles for receiving guidance from the Goddess in one or more of Her many forms.

Selena Fox is high priestess of Circle Sanctuary. She presents Circle Craft workshops on speaking travels, and at Circle Sanctuary at festivals and at the monthly Craftway Circle. This ritual is among those in her book, "Goddess Communion Rituals and Meditations."