In planning a blog post about developing a new Rosary meditation, I realized that I had a lot to say. So, I'm dividing this post into two. First, many Wiccans will ask, why Mary? Why am I worshipping a Catholic Saint as a Pagan Goddess? I think this is a very important question. Here's my story of my relationship with Mary.
Having grown up as a Catholic we prayed to Mary everyday in school. Little did I know what effect this had on me and how much I actually enjoyed or appreciated it. Later in life, after I rejected the Catholic church for reasons such as not accepting me as a gay person or ordaining women, I started attending United and Anglican churches. Mary disappeared from my life almost completely . . . well, except for Christmas and Easter when she would miraculously appear to give birth and then reappear to mourn Jesus' death. It wasn't until a few years ago that I went to an Anglo-Catholic service for friend (which is way more Catholic than the Catholics!) that I was moved by the presence of a Mary in the form of a statue at the side of the church. I couldn't follow the service, which included all kinds of Gregorian and Anglican chant but I kept looking at the statue and I realized that I missed my conversations to Mary in prayer.
A year or so later I was walking in downtown Toronto when I had a calling to visit St. Michael's Roman Catholic Cathedral, the largest and oldest Catholic church in Toronto. It was strange experience and I was surprised but I went. When I got there and sat down people started to recite the Rosary in a group. I had never heard this cycle of prayers. What kind of Catholic grade school did I go to that I never learned the Rosary!?! I was moved by this and I asked my mother who explained it and sent me a family Rosary. I went everyday that summer and prayed and meditated with it. Around this same time I was attending a Zen Buddhist temple and taking a meditation class. I thought the Rosary was a wonderful meditation tool that connected me to my religious roots. After having engaged in this form of prayer for a while, which I combined with lighting a candle at the Mary altar (how very pagan!), I was guided to create a large creative project that involved my new connection to the Rosary. I don't want to say what that project was but I will tell you that I had great success with it. The day I finished that project a group of nuns, who I had never seen before met me outside the church and gave me a medal with Mary on it. I asked them if I should pay them for it. They said no, they just wanted to remind me to pray the Rosary. I told them that I had been everyday and they were surprised. For me, this was confirmation that the Mary was listening . . . and strangely, I never did see that group of nuns again.
So, where does that bring me to today? After many years of contemplation, research, prayer and meditation . . . I realized that I'm trying to cram all my beliefs into religious boxes that didn't accept my ideas . . . or me for that matter! They had wise ideas that I could incorporate but I wasn't completely comfortable worshiping in that space. My strong belief in the Feminine Divine, the God/Goddess in all nature, Paranormal events, my intuitive understanding of people and the universe was not Christian or Buddhist . . . or even a combination. I was Wiccan!
This did not mean that I had to give up previous beliefs. It was Mary who guided me here in the first place! In fact, it was one Catholic principal that had been drilled into my head in grade school that made the most sense, "God is omnipotent!" If that is true, then God . . . or the Goddess can manifest Herself into any form . . . and I'm quite sure that our tiny human brains can't begin to conceive how She works in our lives. She is part of everything and Her energy flows through us all. I know this best when I sit in quiet meditation and feel Her energy flow through me. I always thought it was appropriate that the Catholics called Mary, "Mother of God" . . . because She is God and She gives all life. I love that in many pictures she has healing light flowing from her hands.
I also think of those early Pagans who were converted to Christianity. How did they find new ways to worship the Goddess in a Catholic context so that they were not burned at the stake or violently tortured? Am I rescuing old Pagan rituals that were disguised as Catholic? Did Catholics refurbish Pagan rituals to make their religion more appealing to the people they wanted to covert? As a friend points out, the layout of most churches does resemble a womb, complete with fallopian tubes! How did Mary become the centre of much Catholic worship? We know for a fact that the missionaries used Mary in many Latin-American countries to covert people who had been worshipping Goddesses. Perhaps I am just reviving old traditions and seeing Her in Her original form. [I'm going to read the book to the right very soon.]
So now to refine my rosary to make it more meaningful for me and hopefully I can inspire others. I needed to take it and redefine it in a way that erased Catholic guilt, years of brainwashing and control and make it something to celebrate the beauty of the Goddess. I will share with you in my next post how I did this.
Thank you for reading. Blessed Be!