Finding faith in goddess traditions
August 15, 2012 | 3:00 pm
(Updated: January 17, 2013 | 2:36 pm)
By Erica Alikchihoo
Homosexuality wasn’t just an option.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d end up in a same-sex relationship, and given my upbringing, that’s not surprising. The product of a broken home, I spent my formative years in a fundamentalist First Southern Baptist family. I was taught to believe that girls (especially me, by virtue of my parentage), were sinful, dirty and damned – tarred by the same brush that painted my Mother a whore and a slut. I sat through weekly sermons about hellfire, brimstone and damnation. But, precociously intelligent for a child, I constantly questioned biblical inconsistencies, contradictions and listened to downright horror stories. I never really got acceptable answers, and finally, to discourage my insatiable curiosity, I was told that if I didn’t have “faith” I would never go to Heaven.
Eventually, I stopped using my innate intelligence. At the same time, my self-esteem and confidence was eroding at a devastating pace, fueled by biblical “proof” of the superiority of man (made in God’s image), and the inferiority of woman (blamed for original sin).
As a result, all women and girls were seen to be craven, without morals or self-control. Eventually, I lived down to their expectations. Rape, drugs, promiscuity – I ended up pregnant and alone. My parents offered to let me come home, but their tacit disapproval caused me to grab the first man who showed interest, and in a cruel move, I married him, knowing I didn’t love him. Meantime, in order to feel good about myself, I looked for fault in others, anything to help me elevate an ego that had been trampled nearly to death. I became extremely judgmental, especially toward gays and lesbians.
One day, in the middle of a life-changing confrontation, I was just about to challenge someone with the words “How dare you?” when a psychic lightning bolt hit the floor beside me, and I heard a female voice booming into my head – “No! How dare you. How dare you judge the love I give one person for another, no matter in what form I choose to give it?”
The voice was recognizably divine, even though it was definitely not God. Dazed, I left the church that very day, never looking back. I begged forgiveness from people I’d hurt. I began to see the damage I’d done not only to others, but also to myself and my husband. Depressed to the point of suicide, I met a woman who had addressed issues of horrifying incest and abuse through the rituals of women’s empowerment and healing taking place in Goddess Circles all around the country.
Like a drowning person, I grabbed hold of this Goddess energy and pulled myself up from the depths of despair, healing and taking back my power through women’s rituals, feminist and LGBT political activism and Goddess study-groups.
With the support of my new friend, I left a horribly dysfunctional marriage, and to my amazement, I fell in love with her. She an I have now been together for 21 years. She taught me all she knew about the Goddess craft, and together we have created a womyn’s community in Denver. We offer Circles dedicated to women’s empowerment and healing the wounds caused by patriarchy. Although we consider our tradition to be “Dianic” (feminist, women-only), we recently addressed the controversy of having trans women in our Circles, and it’s the unanimous consensus of our members that all self identified women are welcome.
We are all expressions of the Divine; all of us priceless.
Erica Alikchihoo is a 59 year old Dianic Wiccan who has been a priestess for 20 years. She has co-faciliated womyn’s circles “Moon Mysteries: A Circle of Women” for eight years and currently works in the Medicaid Department for the State of Colorado and owns the business HealerWomyn Creations which sells Goddess handicrafts. Online at http://healerwomyncreations.com.