RITUAL OF LOVE
THE WAY OF THE GODDESS
by Sophia Breillat
Ancient matriarchal cultures worshipped the earth as a
Goddess, deeply honouring their ‘Great Mother’
for her awesome powers of birth, death and renewal. The
inhabitants of these early cultures were awed by the vastness
of the earth’s all-encompassing mystery, revering
her as deeply feminine and eternally wise. Her consciousness
was perceived as a sensually alive paradise, where mountains,
caves and valleys sheltered and sustained pagan Gods and
Goddesses. Through the sacred intimacy of ritualistic practices,
gratitude was bestowed to nature through an innately divine
connection with the benevolent love of this powerful Goddess.
Direct experience of the Goddess’s power through rituals
in her honour was embodied during seasonal solstices and
equinoxes and festivals of sexual love, birth and renewal.
Offering comfort and protection in times of uncertainty
and danger, her devoted Priestesses were also the custodians
and dispensers of the first medicines and healing potions.
The abundant wellspring of the Goddess’s fruitful
body was a source of life-giving waters, nutrient rich soil
and nourishing plants. Through the humbling simplicity of
ritual, she was regularly honoured for her overflowing fertility
and creative power. This practice has enabled many cultures
to be sustained through a profound connection with nature,
where the life energy of the Goddess was always intuited
behind every ritual, every mystery, every miracle.
The men and women of earlier civilisations found new strength,
replenishment and purpose through blessing the awakening
of spring and the fruition of the harvest. The early pagans,
known as earth dwellers or people of the earth, wore green
in ritualistic ceremonies, symbolically encouraging Mother
Nature to drape her body in this colour of abundant crops.
Christian authorities’ strong opposition to these
pagan traditions later created the superstition that green
is unlucky. They also feared this colour because of its
association with the open sexuality of these old rituals.
Creating humility and reverence for all of life, these ceremonies
had long affirmed inner qualities of grace, faith and joy
for pagan earth dwellers.
Through abandoning the earth, modern civilisation has abandoned
the sacredness of the bountiful Goddess and her rituals.
The contemporary patriarchal intellect perceives these rituals
as primitive, ignorant and unnecessary. This misconception
suppresses their profound capacity for reminding us of a
deeper, more intimate part of the psyche that the world
would rather not acknowledge. Through embracing our sacred
connection with the earth, we spontaneously open to the
powerful humility of ritual.
RITUALS OF REBIRTH
The initiation rites of early matriarchies often featured
a descent into the darkness of an underground tunnel, labyrinth
or cave where a solitary journey was symbolically made into
the center of the earth. This labyrinth or passage cut deeply
into the moist richness of the Earth Goddess’s womb
caverns. These underworld realms frequently featured in
ancient mythology as potent symbols of creative female power.
a period of ritual and meditation, the Earth Goddess’s
initiates emerged purified, strengthened and reborn from
the body and womb of The Mother. This profound ritualistic
experience of inner transformation has always been deeply
connected to the flowing cycles of the Goddess, evoking
great fear as well as courage.
This Universal Mother spiritually embraces woman’s
mysterious capacity to die, renew and replenish with the
phases of the moon. Her presence dwells eternally in the
heart of every woman, and every man born of woman. Denial
of her nurturing power creates a deep fear of love, sexuality
The immortal womb of Mother Earth was revered for her unfathomable
ability to graciously bring forth new life and receive the
dead through her endless cycles of rebirth.
Ritualistic reverence for her bountiful gifts of birth,
death and renewal has nourished pagan civilisations since
ancient times. Why then is her awesome presence so very
threatening to contemporary civilisation? Why is the modern
world so afraid of revealing the power of her love and truth?
WOMAN AND RITUAL
The ignorance and fear that rule the patriarchal system
have suppressed the intimate inner reality of woman and
her devotional love of the Goddess. Her sacred rites and
rituals have been destroyed and dishonoured by an insatiable
greed and gross misuse of power that denies her very existence.
For thousands of years, every moment of a woman’s
life was a spiritual act of homage to the Goddess.
Lovemaking, pregnancy and birthing are rituals of transformation
that potentially open her heart in a way that is truly divine,
magical and mysterious. Through the rites of passage of
menarche and menopause, she becomes more whole, more powerful,
more female and more mature. To her, every moment of ritual
is an acknowledgement of the vast love and mystery of her
The priestesses of the Goddess were the original astronomers
and astrologers. Known as moon watchers, their rituals accurately
divined the most auspicious moments for conception, birth,
planting and harvesting. Goddess rituals involved gathering
herbs, flowers and beautiful objects, saying prayers, making
sacrifices and devotional preparation of yonic shrines and
altars. These ancient feminine practices were later negatively
labeled as witchcraft.
The contemporary world, thriving upon separation, is particularly
separated from the loving intimacy of the powerful Earth
Mother residing within the heart of every woman. Ritual
is essentially a part of a fully passionate life lived in
communion with the earth. It cannot be practised as an intellectual
idea or an isolated act, for it is fully of the heart, of
the whole, of the spirit. The pure essence of ritual can
only flow through being totally with the moment, the heart,
The gentle kindness of nurturing feminine religious rites
has flourished for centuries within many cultures that balanced
harmoniously with the Earth Goddess’s natural rhythms.
Sites of ritual Goddess worship were sensitively aligned
with powerful energetic areas of the earth, usually within
the deep quiet stillness of woodland shrines, womblike caverns,
secluded glades and secret grottoes. These holy womb grottoes
and genital shrines were usually the source of hot bubbling
springs, cascading waterfalls and ancient wells offering
the sensual healing balm of the Earth Goddess’s life-giving
Women were always the natural guardians of such places.
Yonic caves and groves were the most prolific uterine symbols
of ancient Goddess worship. A large pillar, tree or obelisk
set within a grove represented the male God being received
by the Goddess. The sensitive healing flow of many of her
dancing streams and rivers is now stagnant, polluted and
very much in need of being healed. The cool moist refuge
of many of her fertile forests has now turned to dust.