Art by Tiana
Amongst my personal reflections, and my exploring of the seasonal Goddess I have had thoughts regarding the training itself. I am the student who has embarked on his course after hungering after it for two years waiting for the money and to come of age (the minimum is 23). During these two years I have visited Glastonbury and the Goddess Temple festivals as often as that I could; I have read Kathy Jones' books, Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess and The Ancient British Goddess twice over and am on my third reading; and I have co-organised pop-up Goddess Temples, and ceremonies, including calling in the wheel, for almost every sabbat. These are not boasts, they are just the result of two years of discovering my calling and running with it. I never believed I would be able to do the training as soon as I hit 23, but here I am!
Now, that being said I have found myself frustrated. I hunger for knowledge, to learn, to experience new things and on the surface I have felt that much of the material I am already very familiar with. Practically and theoretically speaking about first year course content I might be 2 years ahead of a number of spiral sisters; emotionally and spiritually however I might well be very behind a number of them. So in a way, we all come into this training at different levels, and at the same level at the same time. We're all here to grow and learn. I have realised that every course must begin at the beginning and so some things will be familiar; however, this year is not just about learning names, structures, correspondences and crafting tools.
The First Spiral is to become a Sister or Brother of Avalon, before you go on to learn to be a Priest/ess of the Goddess (Second Spiral) and then a Priest/ess of Avalon (Third Spiral). Before you can learn the skills of a Priest/ess of the Goddess you need to get rid of what no longer serves you. You need to go within yourself, find yourself, find the Goddess within.
Phillipa Bowers Sculpture
You learn about each of the Goddesses around the wheel. This is not just learning a name and correspondences, and doing a ritual in honour of them. Each one of them represents a face of nature and an age of life. When you call in the wheel you acknowledge every aspect and archetype of life (and death) known to our landscape int he present time and place; it's a powerful thing to do! Each season, each training weekend, each Goddess, is so much more than their myth and ritual. She is You. You shoulg learn about Her traditions, animals and weather; but you also must learn Her role, Her challenges, Her mirror reflection of yourself.
You do not just learn about Cerridwen's mythology and the Crone archetype at Samhain. Doing that only goes so far. Every year would be the same if you did that. You must learn about Cerridwen within You. Reflect on your dark side, your painful past, or present, your baggage, things that perhaps you don't like to admit in yourself and that you've been avoiding. You do not just learn about Rhiannon and the Lover archetype at Beltane. You must learn about Rhiannon within You and reflect on your views on your own body and power, on your sexuality, taboos, shame or trauma. If you do that successfully, and start to actually make the effort to deal with them (you are on this training to make the effort afterall), then you can get closer to your true Priest/ess self.
This year does take you through the wheel so that you understand the changing seasons and have a knowledge on our culture's mythology. It will also provide you with a beautiful set of hand-made tools to Priest/ess with. It will build your confidence in participating in ceremony. But this is the surface level and perhaps these might be things you are familiar with already? And if that be so, then it just means you can get to the heart of the lesson quicker, not needing to memorise much.
I have not been happily distracted by learning material. I've been miserably distracted by Goddess invading my personal space, prodding and bringing up my own issues. It'll happen to everyone who is consciously present in the course, but for me, it is happening as soon as I start the training weekend.
As I said at the start, the Imbolc weekend has been the least enjoyable for me so far, not because of the course material, but because of my own emotional state. And despite this, I have come back with so much more understanding and appreciation. The lessons are absolutely what I needed, and I would probably not be experiencing these lessons if I was not journeying on the Spiral. There is something about this Journey that truly does transform. It's beyond words and straight-forward explanation. But something magical certainly happens when you walk through the veil that first weekend, and declare that you are ready for Her lessons.
What still remains as a topic of contemplation for me is when I will do the Rhiannon training, for it truly is a when. I cannot wait, but then I don't think I'll walk to take a break in my Spiral training. This will be something to work through too. Something drew me to the Avalon course in the first place and I do believe that come Conference, I'll discover what it was...