My latest trip to the Goddess Temple of OC

So, a few weeks ago, a friend pointed me to a page created by those banished (or left of their of own accord) of the Goddess Temple of Orange County. Having about zero drama in my life, I was interested in the drama from a non-emotionally invested perspective. I seriously should have been an anthropologist, or sociologist or something similar. Between rape accusations, defamation lawsuits, and more, these women have a serious hate-on for Ava and Morrighan. I love just watching people, and trying to figure out their motives, and untangling them... wow, that's distracting. After a couple of weeks, friends and I started talking about going to the Temple.

The last time I had been to a Sunday Service was well before Morrighan (the first priestess) came onto the scene. At that point, Ava was the only main priestess. The vibe was a little different, much more serious, and stilted, and, while I enjoyed it, I felt left out, as there was liturgy I didn't know, etc. Where to turn, etc., wasn't explained, and while I did get a tour of the temple, those who were the volunteer type people there, were friendly, but weren't terribly warm. I didn't feel like they cared about me, which was fine... I mean, why should they? I'm just some random person who dropped in. My favorite part of the Sunday service before, was the part where they asked those who needed healing to come forward, and us to give them our blessing, or healing. I thought that was a lovely way to help and involve the congregation. It was nice, and I'd plan on coming again, but I wasn't going to come every week or anything.

The only issue I had, this was years ago, was when the offering (basket, I think?) was walked around, and I didn't think to bring any cash... I don't usually carry cash, and I didn't even think about it. The woman who carried the basket around gave me a dirty look because I didn't grace her basket with my coin. And she whispered to another woman who kind of sneered at me, as well. I totally understand that churches need money to run. I GET that... but it was a mistake, and her mean look really turned me off of the temple. Now, I know that that woman wasn't a reflection on the clergy... but I am NOT a morning person, and if I get up early on a Sunday morning, it's because I really am looking forward to something, NOT to get a guilt trip because I forgot my cash. Perhaps I would have mailed something in, or something, but not after a mean and dirty look.

So, that was my experience with the Goddess Temple until this morning. I'm always going to be a little freaked out when meeting new people, as I have social anxiety (and it's not socially acceptable to drink before noon :). Everyone I met this morning was super nice, and friendly. It reminded me a bit of the old festival of Pacific Circle, where it took me a bit to understand that people are just talking to me because they are nice and friendly, and not because they want something from me, or have a question. People just like to talk. I did settle in, alright.

Many things had changed. Before, we chanted our lineage all simultaneously. This time, we went around the circle,each  saying I'm ________, daughter of _________." This aligned us all with one another energetically, and put us in a much more personal space than before. The quarter evocations, rather than being something printed on a sheet to read, was something that one of the priestesses evoked. They did a lovely job, and it was easy to follow along. The candlelighting ceremony was great, as well. People were invited to come up and speak, and for the first time, I felt comfortable to stand up and do this.... well, I didn't actually DO that. But I seriously felt comfortable enough to do so, which is a big deal to me.

Another thing that was new to me was moving to different altars, where the Naiad and Votress priestesses attended the congregation in many ways.  Cleansing, and helping, and incense... I felt completely comfortable, which is strange for me. I'm an overthinker. There is part of the service where the priestesses (Presiding and First, and Naiads, and Votresses), sit in the front of the congregation and receive blessings from the congregation (they gave us their blessings during the devotional altar part described above, and as priestesses in our own right, we give our exchange of energy). I feel like this took the place of the part where those needing healing received healing from the congregation. I missed the healing part of the circle, as that used to be my favorite part... but it was super obvious that the priestesses were emotional and appreciative of the energy given to them - it was NOT an ego thing. I gave reiki, and felt it was received well.

Overall, I was really impressed. Reading about lots of the drama, I had expected a crazy yucko vibe, but was REALLY pleasantly surprised. I am a high priestess of a small coven, as well as a leader of a large social group who circles together, and understand how challenging having a lot of people in a circle can be. Ava and Morrighan and their priestesses have found a great balance between finding humor and having a good time and keeping the quiet sacredness of circle. It's NOT easy to giggle and laugh, and come back to a ritual mindset, but you can tell their solid hive mind really helps with this. It's obvious that their priestesses find happiness in helping other people, and you can't ask anything more from anyone in your circle. 

In regards to their detractors, it's easy to point fingers. It's also easy to forget that clergy are people too. If Ava and/or Morrighan said some shitty stuff... well, fuck! They are people, too. They are allowed to have feelings and say what they think. I am super sick of people who think that their clergy/ kids teachers, etc... are above everyone else, and shouldn't say shit if their mouth was full of it! That was something my granny used to say. :) GTOC is Ava's baby. I understand this, as the coven (and tradition) that I started is MY baby. If someone is an asshole, I can tell them to eff off. It becomes a little different, when you are in a non-profit corporation, but I think that we all can respect that Ava has created something unique. And the camaraderie between her and Morrighan is palpable, and not a bad thing. If your kid is acting like an asshole, or you come to circle high or fucked up, why wouldn't I say something to you? I think that many people nowadays are completely too entitled. You don't "have the right" to come to temple, or say something on an internet forum, so if you are behaving badly or break a bylaw, you can expect to have to explain yourself and be asked to leave. My eighth grade algebra teacher had ONE rule: Don't be an asshole.

Even if you have a giant hate-on for them, you can respect their ceremonial structure, and the work that goes into putting something like this morning together. Yes, much of that is the Naiads, and the Votresses, and Ava and Morrighan completely acknowledge that. Even if you disliked Ava and Morrighan, I think it would be possible to be part of the Temple, at least at Sunday Service and stay emotional divested from the main clergy. If it was all about ego, and a power trip, then priestess Mata wouldn't have had the ability to create this mornings beautiful altar. The other ladies wouldn't be doing a lot of what they DO. So, for those who do read about the drama, go to a Sunday Service before you becoming emotionally invested in either side.  I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Oh, and I'm going to buy a tambourine to add to my pile of drums and other percussion toys.


Cat said...

I haven't heard any of the scuttlebutt but you cant make everyone happy all the time. One day I will get off my butt and head over there.

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