Zsuzsanna Emese Mokcsay is an American author, activist, journalist, playwright and song-writer of Hungarian origin who writes about feminist spirituality and Dianic Wicca under the pen name Zsuzsanna Budapest or Z. Budapest. She is the founder of the Susan B. Anthony Coven, the first feminist, women-only, witches’ coven.
Founder and director of the Women’s Spirituality Forum, a nonprofit organization featuring lectures, retreats and other events, Z Budapest was the lead of a cable TV show called 13th Heaven. She has an online autobiography entitled Fly by Night, and writes for the religion section of the San Francisco Examiner on subjects related to Pagan religions. Her play The Rise of the Fates premiered in Los Angeles in the mid-seventies. She is the composer of several songs including We All Come From the Goddess. She lives in Oakland, California.
Z Budapest will be in Europe between March 26th and mid-May for a upcoming tour of rituals and conferences*. We contacted her and asked her thoughts on the current status feminine spirituality today. “Where is the Goddess today? In which ways does she manifest her sacred self?”. Zsuzsanna has answered us with this previously unpublished article which stresses upon the importance of indulging instinctively and co-actively, surrendering to a sacred power of which every woman is spiritually a daughter: the divine feminine.
Instructions of good ritual for unattentive Priestesses
It has been many years since I have started teaching about women making ritual together. . Every book I have written since ( nine titles)contain some more information, how to adjust the rituals to different purposes, how to bend it, vary it and still have it down solid. I have ordained 12 High priestess, who in turn have ordained others, the sacred work of Women’s mysteries is happening nicely all over the world.
Yes, but I didn’t monitor the developments any further. I don’t really know what goes down in circles, what is being taught in my name, how did the “bending” happen.
Every so often I go to a circle and have a reality check. The reason I am not going often is that I am afraid to be bored. To see that my work had been watered down. To sit there thinking how can I leave sooner? It is hard for me to face a priestess of mine and tell her that her circle sucks.
Many women’s circles are satisfied with just the “clinical” variety, a workshop parading as a circle. Good intentions are not enough here. You either deliver a spiritual power raising experience, or you teach About It only. One is called a sacred Circle, the other is called a Workshop. Yes, the two can follow each other, but cannot occur at the same time.
There is a huge difference between a workshop and a ritual. But we need them both.
. Let me explain.
In a workshop the Left brain is engaged. The workshop teaches skills, there is a lot of talk re : information, there may be a book reading involved, may be sharing stories, talking, writing on little pieces of paper, burning them, sending around a mirror, or a bowl of water, changing the activity into something else. Focusing the attention of the women on an aspect of the Goddess ,getting deeper all this is still work shopping.
We need this in the beginning stages of the Path. We need to refurbish our minds with the ancient mythology , we need to learn the aspects of the Goddess, she of the Ten Thousand names. We also need to read more books about her, see how the Goddess was filtered through other minds. This will deepen our imagination. It is a good workshop that teaches us to see reality differently ,use the new paradigm’s lens of the Triple Goddess. Learn about nature and her laws. Start asking better questions and allow yourself to question yourself as well.
A workshop is like going to good magic school.
Then what is the Circle? It’s a temple, which is portable. It is a fresh encounter with the divine feminine, it’s a a slightly structured event, where we have to dress up the form with all contributing. There is a leader of energies, the High priestess. An archaic word for a necessary function of a director of energies. Like the conductor of an orchestra, a good HP employs us in the circle according to our strengths, asks us to contribute without disrupting the right brain activities.
A good ritual uses mostly the Right brain. The old brain. This is where all our genetic memories are kept. This is where words have little meaning, only chanting, singing, scents, dances, touching, eating dancing, kissing.
Once you have started on this Right brain road you must stay on it. You cannot switch back and forth, nothing magical can come from yanking the peoples minds around. The unconscious cannot hold the attention past an hour or so. A good ritual should conclude in this brief time. Anything that goes beyond an hour will crash the energies. Longer rituals are not better.
. Every step has to give way to the next step, it has to hang together like a well made macramé .Just like the dark space that holds the visible universe together, the Hps watchful instincts hold together the energy of the circle.
Since I am not observing myself while I work the circle,, I don’t really Know what I do when I am good. All I can give you is my inner landscape. I internalize the entire circle., I am in all women there present, I will feel the weak spots in my own body, I will then go there and encourage them to do the hum little more lightly not like a lawn mower, or teach them the hum by asking them to monitor themselves by placing their own hand on top of their heads and feel for its vibrations. If it isn’t vibrating, the sound had been misplaced. Usually its in the nose, or the forehead, which then made conscience , women can “think” the hum to the top of their heads.
A good ritual has a definite beginning, middle with a purpose and an satisfying well grounded end.
The first step is holding hands, or putting hands on each others backs. Touching. This will establish a electric current which from now on is our main connection.
The ritual starts with unifying the group with breathing together , which then evolves into humming,(at least 2 minutes) and then chanting.(as long as it takes, )
These are the cornerstones of a Dianic ritual. The hum is to clear all charkas and unify them. The chanting is to empty the feelings from your heart, harmonies and discords both made into sound. This can go on for a few minutes as well. I listen to it deeply, and I know if its faltering way before it will.
The middle of the ritual must be lightly put on top of these skills, the hum for example supports very well the invocations to the four corners, and it makes everybody still involved. In a Dianic circle everybody is doing something(hum,chant,pray) all the time. There is no talking at the group, only playing the next energy burst first, which then can be picked up by the rest of the group. All prayers float on the breath or the hum. If you learn this simple requirement, your job will be considerably more effective.
Once in a circle, there is no reading from book or pieces of papers. I frown deeply on such pedestrian moves. There is no other speech but poetry. or singing . Everything has to be from the heart.
The right brain is the creative brain, spontaneous poetry, blessings, prayers, never prewritten material unless you know it by heart.
You say this is hard?
Not if the beginning of the circle was laid down solid, If the HP practiced the group in breathing together,huming together ,the right brain got properly engaged, it is not hard.
A good circle must have more then one chant, three would do nicely.
These chants can be taught right at the beginning of the circle, to make sure it will flow when called up for use. You cannot teach new stuff in the middle of the circle. This goes for any feature you need in the circle, you have to teach all of it BEFORE you begin the Circle.
I take ten, fifteen minutes to prepare my group of women to the basic structure. This could be dance steps for example, in case of the Spiral Dance a frequent feature ,you have to rehearse a little the technique of it, warn about dangers, such as the last members of the Spiral Dance could be flung around if the dance picks up etc. The women will quickly learn this, and deliver it to you.
I bring magical play to the circle, which engages the women. I call out “The goddess is alive!” And they answer” Magic is afoot.” Then we say our names, Z is alive, everybody answers Magic is afoot! Next woman’s name is alive! etc. It takes a little time to say all of our names as we come up ,if the circle is large, but its still active, nobody is nodding off from boredom.
Then there is the candle lighting with wishes part, which is normally the middle of a circle. Women come to ask for help in their lives, that’s the role of a good spirituality, give a framework for humans to ask for divine intervention. This is known as the power of prayer in all religions. In ours we do it while lighting an appropriately colored candle, and open our arms and prayer from the heart.
This must be supported/listened to by all. Women rarely get this kind of support, listen, as in the circle. Here speech is short, but appropriate, if it can be done with rhymes even better, but I think sometimes women just need to pray any which way they feel it. We hum underneath this activity, just a little under breath, so the woman who is praying aloud can be heard. We listen and we hum at the same time. This is done well all the time.
Having patience with each others movements and time taken for prayer, takes a little sisterhood. Those who need to sit down do so. No magic in suffering in the circle. If its outdoors please dress according to the weather. You cannot sport your latest gown made of see through sari material or anything flammable.
Be a sensible witch. I wear long underwear, if I have an outdoor circle. I wear warm hardy shoes if I climb a mountain or hill..
The end of the ritual also must be organic.
You feel when the energy is waning, you don’t wait until it all runs out of steam. You call together the women before that happens. You create a power cone again, and this time you put the thank you notes to the four corners on it, as you have done at the begining of calling them in. These two part must match up, all deities called in must be thanked properly and dismissed.
At the end you have a chance to peek out the energy ,but this time everybody is psyched .So let it soar! You put a prayer on for “world peace”, for “may patriarchy fall,” some big wish, and send it off to its goal on the wave of the women’s highest energy cry.
The closing part of the circle is love. You either hug each other in group hug, very grounding. Or you proceed to have the feast for the Goddess, which will beautifully ground you.
Grounding by touching the wood floors or concrete, is silly unless you touch actual Earth. You can share some nice freshly baked bread and feed each other with “May you never hunger!” offer drinks to each other saying “ May you never thirst! PARTY!
This is the last part of a good ritual the feeding each other, the good wishes for plenty. Food grounds the most pleasurable way. Eat until you feel your feet underneath you.
I keep myself to these simple rules, which works with the Right brain.
So please be clear, you are having a circle, or a workshop. Do not delegate your HP part to somebody else because those of us present came for magical times. We want the right brain engaged. Boring circles are not magical.
Abdicating from your role as a HP is not cool. Embracing it and delivering the miracle of the sacred is your privilege.
There is a concept of double leadership , this is not for the sacred circles but for workshops. In workshops you can have two teachers, easily arranged , its actually enhancing the interest in the topics from two points of view.
But to circle, you have to go with the woman whose leadership is more magical, who can hang the energies together like a fine web, it’s a talent like any other and we are not endowed the same way. Some can sing and some can sing opera.
The women come for the sacred experience, not to be experimented on, or practiced on by left brain sisters. Do the circle work only if you can do the invisible finely tuned coalescing of the women energies in the circle. It has to go without boring moments, without looking at notes, without faltering with hesitation. It also takes grace and beauty.
Otherwise its like the old church we left behind. Sitting through a long boring ‘service”.
. Now we must develop and insists on higher quality food for our souls. It takes a little devotion, a little good will, and a divine sense
of the fleeting sacred.
We all come from the Goddess
And to her we shall return
Like a drop of rain
Flowing to the ocean.