Coming Home to RCG-I
by Kip Parker, guest blogger
The Motherhouse of the Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess - International (RCG-I) is an unassuming single story building in a residential neighborhood near Madison's Quaker Park. The structure was once a small family-owned grocery but was converted decades ago into a residential dwelling. Its modest appearance belies the importance of this space in my ethereal life. The building's front entrances are adorned by a wooden deck and ramp of likewise modest appearance. This deck, however is the result of an energetic and physical coming together of Congregants from many locations and backgrounds in service to provide accessibility to all women who seek to enter the Temple. I will never forget the weekend I spent assisting the group that was doing the building.
The Temple room itself is large and full of light. There is a permanent altar, decorated seasonally by volunteers and Congregants. Local rituals and events are held here, as well as meetings and Women’s Thealogical Institute (WTI) classes, workshops and seminars. It is one of the places in the world where I feel most at home. And that is a big statement for me. I have rarely felt at home anywhere on the planet. The Temple room is diffused with a peaceful, smiling energy that has a definite female feel. I have spent many happy hours sitting in a circle in that room, gazing around at the faces of the beautiful women there.
One of my favorite things about RCG-I is the fact that there is no particular dogma. RCG-I considers itself to be a multi-traditional women's religion. Our members follow many different paths. Some, like me, consider themselves to be Dianic Witches. Some call themselves Wiccans, or Pagans. Some just refer to themselves as Goddess Women. There are women who identify with the Reclaiming movement, some Gardnerian, some Strega. No woman is ever turned away from membership so long as she holds a belief in a female divinity and declares herself to be on a positive spiritual path. And that's the reason why I belong.
In my early years, I stumbled around the edges of the then-fledgling Goddess movement, seeking a group where I could fit in. I was a rough-edged very butch lesbian, struggling with my addictions, experimenting sexually and trying to heal my past. During those times, I met and spoke with many women who called themselves teachers, high priestesses, or healers. I attended many workshops, classes, rituals and meetings. I restricted myself to women-only groups, thinking that I would feel most comfortable there. But instead, I felt like an outsider most of the time. I was unwilling to blindly follow anyone else's path (which in many cases seemed to be what was expected). Many tried to include me, but I just never felt right. So I read books and practiced solo. Somewhere along the way, I developed intuition and compassion and learned to trust them. When I did connect with other witches, it was one on one. I even attempted to teach some of them the few things I had learned. Still, some deep part of me longed for community.
Then, in the mid 80's at the Michigan Women’s Music Festival, I went to a workshop given by Jade River and Lynne Levy about the new women's religion that they were creating. My heart was touched by their sincerity and their kindness. I subscribed to their publication (the venerable Of A Like Mind). I bought a t-shirt with the triple crescent trademark (in black of course!). But I did not join. I was too wounded to give in to the instinct that told me that Jade and Lynnie were the teachers I had been craving. I had seen too many people who said all the right things, only to eventually demand blind devotion and assimilation.
So I watched from the sidelines while the young Congregation took hold and grew. I watched while a few of my friends joined the Congregation and then WTI. I made some tentative overtures toward Jade, which were met with honest answers and gentle humor. So I went to Madison and walked into that little unassuming house. When I walked into Jade's office that first time she welcomed me, her face beaming. She hugged me and said I would always be welcome. That she would never demand my allegiance. That I would never be asked to change anything I believed in order to belong. Turned out she had been watching me all those years too. Waiting for me to get over my own fears, ghosts and triggers and come home to the little house in Madison.
The Congregation offers many things to many women. There are local circles in many locations, from California to South Carolina, from Texas to Minnesota, from Indiana to Puerto Rico where women can gather and stand upon the earth and worship Her as they will. There are online discussion lists, seminars and classes. There are WTI groups in cities around the country that hold seminars, workshops and classes for women to attend and explore their spiritual paths. There are even guided trips to Goddess sites worldwide. But for me, there is one important thing at RCG-I. Acceptance. From the moment I walked in the door, I was accepted for who I was and what I believed. And I was furnished with the time and support to explore those beliefs. And I was (and still am) furnished with the kindness and acceptance that I have needed to grow and change and bloom.
In that little room in that unassuming house in Madison Wisconsin, I was given the greatest gift of my life. I wish that each of you may find the gift that calls your heart in the temple of your choice.
In Her Service, and So Yours, Kip Parker, Fall Equinox 2006 C.E.
For information about the Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess, International, visit www.rcgi.org
Kip Parker, author of The Planting Rite, is a member of the NE Indiana Circle of the Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess. The Planting Rite is the first in a series called The Rememberer's Tales. For more information please visit www.creatrixbooks.com
Tags: life women and religion spiritual feminism Dianic pagan Re-formed Congregation of the Goddess