Letter from Cressida Pryor
(photo shared with permission)
Since writing the last Isian News I have had the wonderful news that I will, Goddess willing, be a grandma around the time of this next Autumn Equinox. This is my first grandchild so I am still adjusting with excitement to the new role and life’s wheel turning forward to the next generation. Through my own study and experience of pregnancy I know the importance of the supporting matrix to the well being of the new baby. I want a bumper sticker that says: ‘special person on board; grandmother-to-be in car’; or another: ‘interconnected web weaver present’. I am, of course by no means unique, but am enjoying how the experience of this primal and essential process connects me with women across the world and across time. My small local 12th century church has two principal medieval wall paintings close to the altar; one is St Catherine (see attached picture) and the other St Margaret of Antioch. The latter, so the story tells, was swallowed by a dragon but was able to cut herself out of it’s belly to emerge safely and earn herself the honour of becoming the patron saint of childbirth.
When I stand close to her image I can imagine the many women who too have stood at her feet, praying for the safe delivery into the outside world of the precious new life nurtured within their own womb. I make my devotions and I then thank the Goddess for modern health care.
Women in their third trimester find they are pulled to a more inward focus as they disengage from the outside world to enter the necessary maternal preoccupation of motherhood. Many consider a similar period of contemplation, reflection and metaphoric ‘wandering in the wilderness’ to be necessary to fuel the rebirth and growth we witness at springtime and other new starts in our lives.
This is how I see this period now, running up to the FOI’s 40th anniversary at the vernal equinox in 2016. Not by any means fallow in terms of total ‘set aside’ with no fresh seeds to be planted and tended; but a time to reconnect to what it is you are called to now in terms of divine service. My focus when I was originally ordained by Olivia a few years ago, feels very different to how I feel drawn to serve now. Recent circumstances have of course shaped the new directions. I am guessing that I am not alone in this; a period of realignment and rededication perhaps around the quiet more fallow times could be a useful spiritual deepening and honing. There will be two such periods, in a sense two winter sabbaticals between now and the 40th anniversary; the first, the winter months of this year could also be a chance to revisit our own regular spiritual practice, the backbone of our divine connection that nourishes and shapes everything else. Perhaps the second winter can build upon this in terms of how we may serve the divine for a better world. Please communicate with me what your thoughts are on this.
Broader structures within the FOI are also going to be ‘spring cleaned’ so we meet the anniversary with fresh energy and purpose. One of these areas is the basic priesthood training and another will be the rites of passage liturgies - more of this in the next Isian News.
I was reminded on my recent trip to Ireland when talking and enjoying time with members of the Circle of Brigid that the name ‘Fellowship of Isis’ was not a random choice for the three founders. The dictionary definition of a fellowship emphasises it’s a ‘friendly association, people who share interests, meeting to pursue a shared aim’...I have experienced such warmth and support in my new role despite some of the challenges that are inevitably part of it. We connect through the supporting matrix of the fellowship so egoic needs of the self can be laid aside in the knowing that within the warm heart of the Divine One we are all safe.
I leave you with this prayer inspired by Teresa of Avila:
The Beloved has no body on earth but mine.
The Beloved has no hands on earth but mine.
Mine are the eyes through which the Beloved
Streams compassion to the world.
Mine are the hands with which the Beloved
Is to bless all beings.
May I have the grace to know this mystery,
The courage to give myself to it entirely,
And the strength to enact its truth in the world.
With love and blessings, Cressida.
April 10th 2014, Winchcombe UK
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