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Initiation: Waking Up to Destiny

A young woman musing on her destiny

The five stations of the goddess are about our spiritual journey, the inner path of the soul. This takes place in the physical world although it is undertaken on a deeper level than one’s material path. Goddesses can be understood as the inspiration and intuition that is available within our souls. There heavenly beings can speak to us if we are open and available. We come into the world from spirit with a backstory, formed during past lives. Certain lives will be key to our destiny in this incarnation.

Initiation, the second station is signposted by the bodily changes of puberty, and for a girl the start of menstruation. In earlier cultures this would directly bring about initiation into the woman’s role – lover, wife and mother. Even a shaman would take these on and bear children. Male and female roles although different were equally vital for survival. The discovery of many small prehistoric ‘goddess’ figurines indicates that women were honoured as mirrors of the Great Mother, who had power over living nature.

With the development of town- and city-based civilizations, the outward thrusting yang characteristics of males became dominant. Feminine and home-based yin qualities although necessary were less regarded. Yet chosen females could be set apart as oracles, priestesses and nuns and often remained celibate for life. And throughout history certain women have stood out in the over-arching male world (or have recently been ‘rediscovered’) – Enheduanna, Sumerian priestess of Inanna and the first known poet; the powerful woman pharaoh Hapshetsut; famous Greek poet Sappho of Lesbos whose name remains in sapphic and lesbian female relationships; Mary Magdalene, major disciple, seer and apostle of Christ Jesus; British Queen Boudica of the Iceni who led a rebellion against the might of Rome; Maria Prophetissa in 3rd century Alexandria, the first alchemist in the West; wonderful medieval nun and polymath Hildegard of Bingen who taught the Pope a bit of wisdom; Joan of Arc who has never been forgotten and many more known and unknown who were not defeated by their lowly status as women.

The rapid shift from child to woman still exists in some strongly patriarchal situations. But today in our extremely complex world, initiation tends to be a more gradual process. This has come about due to the way the evolution of consciousness has progressed along with our unfolding sense of individuality.

Children typically remain connected with the spiritual world that was their home before birth. How long this connection is retained depends on the family situation and more so the needs of the soul. Some children will quickly orientate to the physical. For example, loving sport and other physical/body activities or inventing and making ‘useful’ things. Others live comfortably for many years within the aura of the non-physical.

And then during the extended teenage/early adult years, the purpose of this incarnation begins to awaken. Interests and romances may align with this, usually without us being fully aware of why. Karma begins to emerge too although it also is rarely conscious at this stage.

Let’s look at how some destinies are ‘initiated’.

Five major female archetypes are brought into clear focus by Dominique Oyston in her 'Goddess Voice Academy'*. I have been inspired by our discussions (she's my daughter) to draw on such archetypal women in the following.

If the purpose of incarnation is towards healing, infancy may bring physical vulnerability or sickness. Such an early awareness of suffering carries with it innate compassion and empathy developed in previous incarnations. As a child this soul is likely to act on the desire to help and nurture – bringing home wounded creatures, forever bandaging her siblings. Her sensitivity and feeling for the suffering she observes in others may cause her extreme pain.

The big changes of puberty can turn such a soul inward to her own wounds. This could bring up inherent psychological issues, intensified if her vulnerability is accompanied by abuse. She may have been burnt as a witch by the religious powers that persecuted traditional healers. Yet some young women immerse themselves in religion, for originally healing was a sacred religious task. Others become the ‘go-to’ friend for their peers. As they mature many envision a career in a healing profession. Often the potential healer will explore different healing modalities, traditional and alternative, searching widely for the one that fits. Meanwhile the young woman is developing a range of valuable skills.

Some are destined to be warriors, fighters for truth. Legends tell of the goddess Athena coming to birth full-grown, wearing her helmet and carrying her shield. This goddess represents both the warrior and divine wisdom. And dual-natured Athena speaks to the warrior soul. She may be feisty from the day she is born and in childhood may battle through obstacles. She will be courageous, and generous if she is allowed to trust. Developing trust is so important, for the warrior child can grow up to become an aggressor or a protector.

Puberty brings its own challenges. She may resent the physical changes because they restrict her freedom. As a teenager she has trouble conforming in the classroom. Nor does she want to ever ‘fall in love’ like other girls. Anything to avoid being subject to others. For this soul a danger lies in her always wanting to win or conversely becoming too much of a loner. But if she is able be an open learner (rather than rejecting others’ ideas automatically) she will learn the tools to forge her own path well. When difficult karma comes into the life of a female warrior, that’s because her soul now has the strength, tenacity and courage to face it.

If a soul’s purpose is to contribute through the richness of her mind, she incarnates with the knowledge built over many lives in which she has been guide and mentor – perhaps a philosopher, a leader in a mystery school, an alchemist, an academy master, a teacher. Past lives influencing her are likely to be male – the masculine once ruled the intellectual sphere. Now feminine qualities are being welcomed in.

She will be a watchful, wide-eyed child. For she is learning anew while her soul is remembering. She takes in knowledge of everything around her as nourishment, and accordingly is quiet and thoughtful.

The physical is not necessarily strong in her store of memories. Puberty forces her to connect physically and bodily with the earth. This isn’t a bad thing because now she has the opportunity to study life around her, forming concepts in a conscious and practical way. Study is a serious matter for this soul. For relaxation she will take up activities that enable her to learn more. Her friends and romantic partners are those with whom she can share ideas. But there is a possibility that before she matures and gains discernment her keenness to know can mislead her into unhelpful and even false information sources.

All who walk the goddess path become teachers in some way. This young woman’s passion may direct her specifically towards teaching, although the reality of her purpose may not settle until she comprehends how sharing knowledge also entails careful nurturing and guidance.

Then there’s the artistic soul. Although it is said that all little children are artists – and this is true – the soul with an urge to create is impelled to carry this through to adulthood. It may be that her gifts were rejected or squashed in a past incarnation, or simply that she needs to create in a new way for destiny to be fulfilled. But because creativity is a gift that can readily be expressed physically in the ‘normal’ world it is likely that others will observe an ability to draw, write, make music etc.

The creative soul may try to reject her talent because it doesn’t lead to a financially viable career. There will be those who say she is wasting her time and should ‘get real’. But creation will find a way. It calls too loudly within her. But this soul can be misdirected by the inner hunger that in one sense is the source of her creative drive but in another may lead her along unhelpful pathways. It can also trap her in ego. The wide-awake creator will seek like-minded friends and lovers as she navigates the difficult alternative path to the materialism that drives society.

We are looking at the souls who have a deep longing to walk the spiritual path, whatever field they enter in the adult world. As the innocence of childhood fades the girl on the cusp of womanhood may seek socially acceptable ways of expressing what lives in her soul – dancing, singing, fantasy games and storytelling, close friendships and exploring outdoors in the living world of nature. In these lovely activities she is easing into who she must become.

As she matures there will be an increasing urge to come to terms with what lives in her. The dominant religious institutions have a history of female repression. Such a soul may have suffered for accessing spiritual realities that lie outside those established religions. Seeking an outlet, she may turn to a wide range of spiritualities. She must be careful not to become ‘a spiritual tourist’, forever flitting from place to place. There are so many enticing voices that would speak to her ego, telling her she has it all ‘now’ without the work. This can only weaken her sense of self.

Walking the way of the goddess is truly ‘the road less travelled’. Yet because the feminine aspect of spirit is mutable and many-coloured, it can beautifully assist a young woman to discover who she is. The initiation stage sets in motion the work of self-knowledge and of gaining the ability to stand firm in that Self which is known as the spiritual ‘I’ or I AM. But it is the beginning. During the next station, known as consummation, the most profound inner work will take place.

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