Book Review: A Woman’s Book of Rituals and Celebrations

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The awesomely ’90s cover of my copy.

It seems a bit odd to review a book that is 22 years old. However, I only discovered A Woman’s Book of Rituals and Celebrations by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. after stumbling upon it during an Amazon search for Barbara Walker’s ritual book, and I enjoyed it so much that I had to share it. It is out of print, but it is easy to find inexpensive used copies online. Also, be sure to check the women’s studies and metaphysical sections of your favorite used bookstores—I have been finding quite a few women’s spirituality treasures at my local bookstores lately.

Barbara Ardinger’s writing style is clear, down-to-earth, and funny. She refers to her approach to ritual as “unencumbered ritual,” meaning rituals you can do in your bedroom or living room without a lot of ingredients, props, tools, or pomp and circumstance. My rituals tend to be simple and often spontaneous, so her ritual style really appeals to me. The book includes a number of rituals including a self-blessing, a ritual of personal power, a ritual to bless your altar tools, as well as rituals for the new, full, waning, and dark moons, and all of the seasonal celebrations of The Wheel of the Year.

However my favorite part of the book, which I was not expecting based on the title, is her discussion of “practicing the presence of Goddess.” Practicing the presence of Goddess means being mindful, centered and following a path of practical, everyday devotion in our lives. Much of the first half of the book is devoted to this idea of practicing the presence of Goddess, with suggestions of how we can do so. This part of the book gave me much food for thought and spoke directly to my yearning to live a life of devotion every day. Barbara Ardinger also encourages a playful, light-hearted approach to devotion, which is a reminder I can always use since I have a tendency to take things too seriously.

While most of the book focuses on the female face of the Divine, she does also include the male Divine in a couple of her seasonal rituals, but it would be easy to alter the ritual if you only work with the Goddess. She does also include one reversing ritual to send harmful energy back to the perpetrator of an injustice. This is something that gets very close to crossing an ethical line for me, but we each must decide for ourselves if we want to work this kind of magic.

If you follow a Goddess path and are looking for simple rituals and ideas for living in a more sacred, mindful way every day, I highly recommend this book—it is absolutely worth tracking down a used copy if you can. There is also another, newer version called Practicing the Presence of Goddess, but it has fewer pages and the table of contents is very different. I may at some point get a copy and compare the two books, but for now can only recommend the older version since I haven’t seen the newer one.

Happy reading, and may we all learn to practice the presence of Goddess every day!

Catching Up

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These tete-a-tetes were the first flowers to bloom in my yard. They are so cheerful!

I can hardly believe that it has been a couple of weeks since I last posted. I once had someone say to me, very matter-of-factly, “Well, you know, time is speeding up.” I’m starting to believe it!

This past weekend I attended a Women’s March “huddle” here in town. I was so excited that one was organized in my town, which tends to be pretty conservative. Over 50 people showed up, mostly women, but there were a few men, too. It was so nice to realize that there are other people in my community that care about the same issues I do! I’m strongly introverted, and tend not to be a “joiner,” preferring one-on-one interactions to groups, but I loved the energy of this meeting and am looking forward to seeing what comes next.

During the huddle, I also learned that there is a Red Tent group that meets here in town every month, and I plan to attend that next week. It isn’t easy to  move out of my comfort zone, but I really do enjoy meeting new people, and I have been wanting to find ways to connect with like-minded local women. There is hope for this introvert yet!

I have also been doing a lot of reading, focusing mainly on the women’s spirituality books I’ve been collecting lately. I especially enjoyed Barbara Ardinger’s A Woman’s Book of Rituals & Celebrations. I have a blog post or two coming soon that were inspired by ideas in this book.

The main thing that has been keeping me busy lately is creating Goddess rosaries and prayer beads to sell. My rosary posts are by far the most popular posts on my blog, and I absolutely love creating rosaries, so I decided to start selling them for people who want to work with prayer beads, but don’t want to create their own. I’ve been beading every day as well as trying to figure out the whole business side of things. This weekend I’ll be working on the art that will go in the pendants for each rosary. I plan to open my Etsy shop around the beginning of March, and I’m really excited. This is turning out to be a lot of fun!

You may also have noticed that the name of my blog has changed. I had chosen “The Verdant Way” several years ago, but was never completely happy with it. It isn’t the easiest name to say, and I get a lot of blank looks from people who aren’t sure what “verdant” means, since it isn’t in common usage these days. I spent a couple of weeks tossing around new names, and one night as I was drifting off to sleep “Earth Water Spirit” popped into my head. I got up and wrote it down and lived with it for a few days, growing to like it more and more. Amazingly, the domain name was available, and it just felt like it was meant to be!

So that’s what’s been going on in my life the past couple of weeks. I have a lot of ideas and projects taking root right now, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you as they begin to bloom (yep, I had to use a spring metaphor—’tis the season, right?). Are you feeling new ideas and projects stirring inside you as spring arrives, too?

Candlemas Day and a Couple of Inspiring Videos

I hope everyone had a wonderful Candlemas/Imbolc! Candlemas Day was absolutely gorgeous here. We had sun and clouds with temperatures in the low 60s—our warmest day since autumn! I wandered around one of my favorite parks, exploring small pools full of shells left behind by the receding river, and feeling my heart leap with joy every time I looked up at the beautiful blue sky. After almost a week of fog, having sun on Candlemas was such a blessing!

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Exploring pools down by the Applegate River. Sorry that this is so washed out! I was so blinded by the sun that I didn’t get a good picture.

In the evening I celebrated with a ritual and did my Candlemas tarot reading. I didn’t take a picture of my spread since it was too dark to get a decent shot, but it was a positive and encouraging reading. I did, however, get Death as my “overall theme” card for this turn of the wheel. Gulp! Looks like I may be experiencing some major transformation between now and Spring Equinox. Change isn’t easy, especially for this Taurus, but I also know that it really is time to let some things die so I can move forward in a new way.

The daffodil bulbs in my yard are growing by inches every week, and several of them already have buds. Yesterday, on my way to the river I saw a hazelnut tree with catkins unfurled and clouds of yellow pollen being blown away with the wind. At the river, I found that some willow flowers are opening, one of the my favorite signs of early spring (their flowers are those downy catkins often referred to as “pussy willows”).

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Willow flowers beginning to open.

Nature has been putting on quite the inspiring show, but I also found inspiration of a more social and political kind from these two videos this past week:

Are you feeling you own energy awaken as the days lengthen and you start to see the very first signs of spring? I know I am, and it feels great!

Bright early spring blessings to you all!