Teardrops are falling on my grandmother’s silver as I straighten and perfect each place setting, and my heart-drum beats out a mournful dirge as I light the black candles.
One by one, I summon them, bidding them to join me on this Samhain night when the veil is so thin that I can hear the wails of burning women tied to stakes, and the gasps of holy healers swaying at the noose ends. I summon them, these women I was told to shun, and I take my seat at this Last Supper of Holy Whores, this so solemn Samhain celebration that is my highest ritual.
I call on the Mystery to resurrect the Divine Feminine dark, and I set fire to the sweet-grass braids while I whisper their infamous, ill-reputed names.
Mother of Babylon, I welcome you and your revelations to this table. On this ghostly night, I remember you for your Witch-warrior nature and your kinship with nature. I can read the language tattooed on your body, and I have memorized the truest apocalyptic verses. You represent the end of their days, and their condemnation of your leadership is fear-born and unholy.
You will give them their last rites, and I will stand with you while you draw a phantom pentagram over their hearts.
The ghost of the wild Mother materializes, riding her seven-headed wolf and glowing an ethereal red.
They feared the future you represent, the Wild Rising and the genesis of pan-human equality. They tell little ones you embody all that is evil and unjust, but many know the truth. You are the collective feminine wound of our stolen right to affect change, to vindicate our dead, and to unearth the bones of the socially powerless. You are our right to grieve, and our divinely sanctioned right to share our own prophecies.
They called you a whore, but tonight I will call you Mother.
The wild one dismounts her beast and takes a seat at the table’s head. I pour wine for her and crush my eyes closed, readying myself to call in the next guest.
Mary Magdalene, I welcome you and your devotion to the Sacred Masculine to this table. I remember you for your passion and your grace, and I have heard your lover beg me to resurrect you with my words. You are the holy partner, the eternal Creatrix, and you will not be shamed.
The ghost of the red-hooded She-God appears holding a baby in her arms, and the Mother of Babylon raises a fist high in solidarity.
They feared your sexuality and your intimate, heart-born connection with the man they worshiped as their savior. They do not tell their daughters you were the lover of Christ, but I will. They do not speak of your divinity, but I will raise my voice for you. You are the collective feminine wound of our stolen cosmic birthright to make love to our Gods, to drink the holy water, and to pray with our bodies.
You, Lover-Priestess of Magdala, are the pulse-beat of the universal heart, and you are our right to hand-craft our own religions. They called you a whore, but I will call you Mary, Lover of Christ.
She lowers her hood, taking a seat next to the Mother, and I spoon some of my Witch’s brew into her bowl. Still more ghosts are all around us, and their curious whispers nearly drown out my call to the fallen queen.
Jezebel, I welcome you and your devotion to this table. Tonight, I remember you. This is a memorial service to your spiritual conviction, your bone-deep spiritual autonomy, and your refusal to bow down to a God that was not your own. I am giving your crown back to you, and I am tattooing your name on my belly.
The royal woman who was denigrated for her beliefs appears in all her adorned glory, and both the Lover from Magdala and the Mother of Babylon bow their heads in reverence to the one they called an idol-worshiping adulteress.
They feared your spiritual freedom, and they denounced your religion. They beat you, and they tried to rob you of your worth. They still use your name to restrict the sexual liberty of women, and they have bound you in their so-called holy book to be forever the unchaste one. You are the collective feminine wound of stolen spiritual agency, and all women feel your pain.
They called you the fallen queen, but I will call you Jezebel, Priestess of Baal and Lover of Mystery.
The queen takes her seat at the table, leaving just one empty chair, and I butter some bread for her. We four sit in silence for a time then, readying and steadying ourselves, raising our frequencies so high that we sprout wings from our backs and milk-white crowns from our heads.
I feel her before I call her, and these words pass from my lips in an accented tongue I do not speak, and yet I understand my meaning:
Lilith, I welcome you and your brave heart to this table. On this sacred night, I remember your refusal to accept the conditions they set for you, and I remember your liberation from the sweet floral prison built to contain your sexuality, your wit, and your fem-force. You are a fire-walker, sent into the desert to repent the sin of feminine independence, and you risked much in the dangerous search for your own house.
No, you said. No, I will not apologize for knowing my worth. No, I will not submit to your will. No, I will not surrender to the hand of those who would harm my daughters, and by the grace of all things holy, I will not bow down to a God that thinks me less than a man.
There is an earthquake in my bones, and I shiver, waiting. The candles dim, threatening to die out, and then the flames extend so high, white-hot and sparking. All of us — the Mother, the Lover, the Priestess, and I — bow our heads in womb-felt reverence, and she appears.
The original incarnation of the Feminine Divine, this wild-haired, bare-breasted, and dark-skinned force of nature who descends all religion, sees straight into my marrow. Her black eyes bear down into my soul’s deepest wounds, and suddenly she knows all of my secrets. I would have begged her to consume me then, to swallow all of my energy and use it as she sees fit, but again I speak without trying:
They twisted your story, Dark Goddess, as they have stolen and molded the stories of every woman who sits at this table. They used your names to teach their lessons, and kept you shackled to a book you never read and a God you did not worship. You are the collective feminine wound of social inequity, oppression, and isolation. Lilith, they called you the Mother of Demons, but I will call you Dark Goddess, Mother of All.
The rawest human form of the Feminine Divine takes her seat at our table, and I slice her some forbidden fruit as the candles blaze. We hold hands, and the scene is like no other. The Mother’s seven-headed beast is snoring softly at our feet, and the baby of the God-among-men and his red-hooded lover is cooing softly, mesmerized by the fires.
When I join hands with them, Lilith to my left and the Mother to my right, I can feel them inside of me. My guts twist with the red, throbbing ache of our shared wounds. I feel the Mother’s wound of stolen prophecy, the Lover’s wound of denounced body prayer, the Priestess’ wound of spiritual subjugation, and the Dark Goddess’ wound of inequity, the original sin.
I feel it all, and I pray for death; the collective feminine scars are so egregious, so unbearable, I have nowhere to keep this pain. I am in agony. I am birthing a billion black holes from my belly, and they are ripping their way out of my soft flesh. I want to bleed out, but my guests will not let me.
I am pulled from my pain by their hands, and my thoughts are lucid again. I feel the merit of their vindication, and sit, slumped and breathless, while they pray-howl in unison over our Samhain supper:
On this holy night, we bless this table with our tears and our rage. We sit together in solemn solidarity, and we invoke a total transmutation of the collective feminine wound. We invoke the Mystery’s cool, cosmic wonder to come forth and quench our thirst for change.
Their voices grow so loud, I feel my body will combust with the pressure of the sound, and I surrender to their invocation fully, with all that I am or will ever be.
We are calling on the Sacred Feminine to rise up, to groundswell under our feet and swallow up the outmoded religions of this world. We are calling on holy wildfire to incinerate any ropes that bind the hands of the oppressed, and we are demanding to be heard. Hear us, women, and know you will not be tamed by their laws. You are She-Gods, and for this, you are feared.
Hear us, all who value the Feminine, and know it is your time. Hear us, and affect the transformation of spiritual systems that would keep you in the dirt.
Hear us, for we are owed. We have suffered much in the tragic names of piety and morality. We have been burned, scorned, pushed from windows, and shamed. Our power has been locked inside countless cages, their laws, their commandments, their moral codes. Tonight we say no more, and tomorrow we rise.
Tonight we have risen from our unmarked graves to ignite a bonfire of the Feminine Returned, and tomorrow we will visit the dreams of anyone who will have us.
We are the ghosts of the Holy Feminine, and we will haunt the churches that banned us. We will take the titles they said we could not have, and we will wear their most sacred robes. We will stand and sing with their choirs, and the Sunday-dressed women will whisper of the spectral, wild-haired ones. We will stand bare-breasted in front of their stained glass windows, and we will wail when our names our mentioned.
You cannot have us anymore. We are not yours to use, Priest. Find other tools of indoctrination, for our stories do not belong to you. We are the Spirits of the Wounded Feminine, and we demand justice. We will shred any mask you make for us, and the dead do not get tired. Our energy is self-renewing, ever-flowing, and all-encompassing. We are here, and we are staying.
Their last words hang in the air. The candles have been snuffed, and I am alone in the dark, left with nothing but my resolve.