Wednesday is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, the one when Earth's solar energy reaches its zenith and the moment when the powers of nature are at their most intense point. And for the Goddess Temple of Orange County, it is a day to paaarrr-tay! Unfortunately, Wednesday will is the day before the Weekly's special summer guide hits the streets, and the way our deadlines work means there is no way to cover the temple's Summer Solstice celebration for that issue. And Clockwork couldn't cover the event anyway, see as how our sweeping second hand is a penis. The Goddess Temple of Orange County's Summer Solstice celebration is ladies only. Sorry, Charlie.
But our readers with vaginas are welcome to go. The event will run from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the temple, 17905 Sky Park Circle, Irvine. Call 877-N-TEMPLE, (949) 651-0564 or visit goddesstempleoforangecounty.com to RSVP. Guest Priestesses Nita Rubio and Geanna Gonzalez-Wood are scheduled to “perform a ritual full of empowerment, devotion and bliss as the sun's power peaks for one magical moment and then begins to wane. Come ready to be immersed in how Goddess sun power brings fulfillment and brightens our lives.” Participants are encouraged to carry red or yellow flowers, wear fiery red or glittery gold colors and bring seasonal foods for a post-ritual after party in the temple's Oshun's Lounge. Guests arriving after 7:15 p.m. will not be admitted, and the ritual is not suitable for young children. Cost: $10.
And as we noted at the top: Women Only!
For more information on the temple, and insight as to what those of us of the non-fairer sex will miss, we fired some questions at the Goddess Temple of Orange County's Rev. Ava and, boyohboy, did she answer 'em. You may remember her as Ava Park, who formerly headed–we believe, founded—Orange County People for Animals and was once named Orange County Citizen of the Year by the Weekly.
Please note that you'll be reading a large chunk of fascinating text before you arrive at our second scintillating question:
Clockwork : PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THE GODDESS TEMPLE, HOW IT STARTED, ETC.
Rev. Ava: EVE WAS FRAMED …
Thirty thousand years ago, pretty much everyone on the planet had the idea that God was female . . . and women everywhere were the natural spiritual authority, serving as shamans and spiritual leaders of tribes and clans. Five, six, seven thousand years ago, patriarchy (“rule of the father”) arose and demoted women, throwing them out of positions of power in religious institutions, turning them into chattel, and, on top of that, blaming them for all the bad stuff! Think Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Fast forward to Now . . . the world suffers terribly without the balance of women's spirituality. When our only god is a scary, punitive, remote “Father in the Sky,” it's hard for people to feel the nurturing, protective, compassionate aspect of the Divine . . . and so show that loving face to each other. Even though the more recent New Testament/Christian God is often referred to as compassionate and loving, the actual underpinning of our overall societal beliefs about God seems still to be the Old Testament God of punishment, wrath, and fear. And He's way up there in the sky somehow . . . far away . . . transcendent . . . not immanent, not inside . . . not part of us.
EVEN BUGS ARE DIVINE
For women, it's particularly hard for them to feel any sense of the Divine within, when they keep hearing of God as male (“He, Him”) and they know they are “other” . . . female. It separates women from feeling holy and sacred. In our church, everything is holy and sacred . . . every aspect of reality . . . every woman, every man, every child, every animal, every plant, every bug . . . yes, bugs!! . . . everything . . . and when we know ourselves as holy and sacred . . . we act like it! And good things flow from that knowing. When women don't feel holy and sacred, their self-esteem is shot and they start to allow all sorts of bad things to be done to them; they accept abuse, oppression and mistreatment as their natural due. It is not.
THE HELL WITH YOU
Paradoxically, this Judeo-Christian Father God is also ultimately very hard on men, as well. Patriarchy operates under the dominator model: “You're weaker. I'm taking what I want–by force if necessary–and the hell with you . . . and by the way, the hell with your children, the environment, animals, the rainforest, and future generations on earth.” This model of behavior sets the stage for everything that is wrong with our world: wars, aggression, violence, trashing Mother Earth, child abuse, sex slavery, racism, classism, factory farming, puppy mills, global warming, high gas prices, Humvees, homophobia, bad plastic surgery and the common cold (okay, well, maybe not that last one).
LOOKING for the REAL GODDESS
Men actually hate it when women don't remember how to act from the true power of their goddess selves! Men are constantly looking for The Real Goddess (not those fake impossible air-brushed implanted Barbie-doll “goddesses”) and constantly disappointed when women fail to show Her to them. Men keep testing us . . . and we women must continually rise to the challenge by lovingly showing them what a goddess (of any age or weight or color) truly is . . . powerful, beautiful, holy, sensual, sexual in the most sacred way, magical, confident, compassionate, innocent, wise, generous, gracious, and able to hold both the vision for the world . . . and proper boundaries for ourselves. You wouldn't let someone spit on an altar in your church . . . for the same reason, women must not let anyone mistreat us in the smallest way . . . we carry a part of the Divine within us and we are each an altar in the Sacred Community of Life on Earth.
“UHHMMM … CAN I GET A MASSAGE?”
Men are constantly looking for the Goddess in all the ways they know how . . . some of them fumbling and funny. Every day, wary-looking men from twenty to eighty step hesitantly through The TEMPLE doors . . . they look around at the beautiful altars lit with candles . . . and, dazed and confused, they bravely forge ahead in their search . . . “Uhhhmmm . . . can I get a . . . . . . a massage?”
Yes, they are looking for the Goddess! Or at least, a goddess. Online earlier that day, they googled “goddess temple” and guess what? . . . up popped a thousand porn sites and massage parlors. No wonder they see our sign, The GODDESS TEMPLE of Orange County, on Redhill in Irvine and think what they think. How sad that this is what the world thinks a goddess is. Men are indeed looking for the goddess . . . just not in quite the way we'd prefer . . . but the priestesses of The TEMPLE are always gracious and loving. We gently share with them that “this is a church for women . . . send your wives, sisters and girlfriends . . . and return for special events where men are warmly welcome!” Somewhat sheepishly, with heads bowed in respect . . . they're not fools, they get it! . . . they accept our proffered brochures and quietly depart, perhaps with an expanded idea of what is Sacred and Feminine. We hope so. We love the men. They too are part of all that is divine.
ENOUGH GOOD STUFF FOR ALL
The GODDESS TEMPLE of Orange County is a church for women of all faiths to reconnect with their natural and original spiritual power. When enough people . . . both women and men . . . do connect with this concept of God as The Sacred Feminine, the planet will turn from the dominator model to a new (actually really, really old!) model of shared power for the good of all (“There is enough good stuff for everyone if we all respect Mother Earth, live reasonably, and help one another.”) We will stop warring upon one another and stop seeing everything around us as our means of short-term personal pleasure and profit: women as sex objects, animals as machines, and the land and seas as our personal ATM's.
(Message to readers from Clockwork: this next question was poorly constructed. We wanted to know how long the temple has been in Orange County):
Clockwork: HOW LONG HAS THE GODDESS TEMPLE BEEN AROUND?
Rev. Ava: The GODDESS TEMPLE was founded in 32,002. No, that is not a typo. We date not from Christianity, but from the Paleolithic when the Goddess was first honored that we know of . . .
Clockwork: HOW HAVE YOU BUILT A FOLLOWING? HOW DO PEOPLE FIND OUT ABOUT YOU?
Rev. Ava: The TEMPLE has been built through word of mouth, woman to woman. Women attend our Sunday Services, and leave very excited with the energized, charged, and empowered feeling they receive during Services in circle with other women. During services, we do magic, allow sacred energies to move through our bodies, fill ourselves up with these and then send out the extra to those who need it in the world. We hold the vision for a new way of being in the world: peaceful, powerful, abundant, joyful. These are our natural rights as humans, but in order to own them, we must claim them. And we do.
NO NEAT ROWS HERE
After a service, many women will go forth and tell other women about “this great new church.” It's very participatory . . . in most churches, you sit quietly in your neat little rows, listening to one person in charge (usually a man) telling you how it is, what to think, how to act. In our church, we do indeed have a facilitating woman who guides the transitions from the singing to the drumming to the sharing to the praying to the libations, but we all contribute equally to the energy of what is happening in the room. It's much more alive and real and immediate and fulfilling. After Services, we have lovely “Oshun's Lounge (African Goddess of Beauty, Power, Joy, Sensuality) to relax in. Our Sunday Services and Holy Day Rituals are for women only, as we need to remember and personally re-experience our ancient spiritual power in a woman's circle, where we can fully claim it, without the distraction of men, wonderful as they are, being present.
Clockwork: WHY IS MARKING THE SUMMER SOLSTICE SO IMPORTANT TO THE TEMPLE?
Rev. Ava: Modern urban people have become completely disconnected from the cycles of nature, from what is actually happening on Mother Earth. Everywhere we go, we live surrounded by concrete . . . our feet hardly ever touching Her soil or grass or sand. Summer solstice is one of eight ancient holy days that have been celebrated by humans for thousands of years, connecting people of every culture to the cycles of the seasons. Celebrating these seasonal holy days helps us modern people reconnect to the Earth, and in the process, remember many things about our own selves from each turn in the wheel of the year. For example, Summer Solstice is the height of the fiery energies of the sun, light, heat. This is a time of fruiting, fulfillment, joy, abundance, celebration. Each season has its own blessings and lessons.
Clockwork: CAN YOU “SET THE SCENE” FOR OUR READERS, IN OTHER WORDS DESCRIBE THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS AND SMELLS THEY'D EXPERIENCE AT THIS SOLSTICE EVENT?
Rev. Ava: Since every Holy Day is unique, and depends very much upon the energy that is created spontaneously by those attending, we cannot say in advance precisely what will happen . . . that's part of the magic and mystery . . . but some of the elements the women experience will be . . .
FEEL the FEMALE BUZZ in YOUR BELLY
Processing one by one in silence into Sacred Space, you will be purified by a priestess by an element of the earth . . . fire, water, air or salt. You will take your place in the circle of fifty to a hundred women of all ages–many fabulously costumed with the colors and symbols of the season–surrounded by large, exquisitely decorated altars, glowing with candles, showing Sacred Feminine images of all kinds from all cultures. Beyond the altars is a ring of living trees marking the boundary of the space (for the first goddess temples were groves of trees in the woods). Incense will waft gently by. The priestess will begin by grounding the circle to the earth, attuning, and the intention for evening's work will be set. Energy will be raised and a buzzing will begin to be felt in the room and in the bodies of the women. The enactment of the ritual will occur . . . we cannot say what . . . usually taking at least an hour. The power of the circle will be shared with the world as the energy is sent out. Gratitude will be expressed by the circle, and in conclusion, libations of wine and eating of cakes may occur. Every ritual is different and none can be explained in words.
Clockwork: WHAT KIND OF FOODS ARE SERVED AT THE POTLUCK USUALLY?
Rev. Ava: Really cool ethnic foods from all around the world! We have women from many cultures who gather at The TEMPLE to honor the Sacred Feminine, each in their own way, and food is a part of that honoring. Women often will bake and cook recipes from their own cultures. And, of course, we always pay tribute to that Ancient and Most Great of Goddesses, “Choco-Mama,” with lots of chocolate foods.
Clockwork: HOW MANY PEOPLE USUALLY ATTEND? MEN AND WOMEN OR JUST WOMEN?
Rev. Ava: Our Holy Day Rituals and Sunday Services are for women only. We have many wonderful events that warmly welcome men. New Moon Drumming is one of the more popular events to which guys come. The women get up and dance and the men drum . . . sometimes the men get up and dance too! Everyone has a great time. We also have amazing tantric pujas, where women and men, led by a priestess, sit in circle and connect with each other in beautiful, honoring, sacred, sensual and warm ways. Afterwards, the women and men enjoy refreshments together in the Lounge.
Clockwork: DO YOU THINK THERE IS NOW A CRAVING FOR (FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD) ALTERNATIVE FAITHS SUCH AS YOURS, AND IF SO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE IT TO?
Rev. Ava: People are realizing that the prevailing Big Five (Judeo-Christian/Muslim/Buddhist/Hindu) Patriarchy has shown us all it can. The dominator model has run its course. It's still very much operating in the world, but it is definitely in its death throes . . . it's all but done. We're all becoming very sick of wars and mistreating each other. We're seeing new paradigms of creation . . . What the Bleep! Something is shifting . . . it started in the seventies when we saw our home planet from space for the first time . . . and with Temples such as ours arising, the shift is starting to gain momentum. It will take time certainly . . . those in power don't give it up easily . . . but peoople are starting to get The Inconvenient Truth, as Al (a true, powerful Goddess man!) Gore says . . . we can no longer afford to disrespect and abuse our First Mother, the Earth.
Clockwork: YOUR WEBSITE SAYS YOU ARE “PRIESTESSING THE EARTH TOWARDS PEACE AND PROSPERITY.” CAN YOU POINT TO ANY HOPEFUL SIGNS THAT THIS IS HAPPENING BECAUSE, FRANKLY, MY EYES AREN'T SEEING SO MUCH OF THAT THESE DAYS?
Rev. Ava: Oh, it's darkest before the dawn . . . come see us at the Temple and we'll fill you up with more than hope . . . we have a knowing that, as we hold a vision, we can magnetize it into this reality! People always say,”I'll believe it when I see it.” No . . . we must believe it first, then we'll see it! We create what we focus on . . . we are peaceful and prosperous at The TEMPLE and we are radiating that to our community!
Clockwork: AFTER YOU ARE SUCCESSFUL IN “BRINGING A BALANCE” TO THE WOMEN OF ORANGE COUNTY, ANY CHANCE YOU COULD SWITCH TO THE MEN BECAUSE I THINK WE REALLY NEED IT?
Rev. Ava: (Smile) . . . We don't have to “switch” to the men . . . the Women of the Sacred Feminine are already including them! The men are an absolutely integral part of the whole process . . . we pray for and affirm their peace, true power (not force . . . as in David Hawkins' “Power vs. Force” . . . fabulous explanation of the critical difference), and fulfillment right along with our own. It's all tied together in One Great Web.