Last year I wrote an article for Moot Magazine entitled Spirituality- The New Religion for the New Age, and during my research the subject of the preponderance of women that are pursuing a spiritual rather than a religious path came up. In an interesting quote, Professor Sabina Magliocco of California State University told me,
“The preponderance of women, the well-educated and youth in Pagan religions is no mystery. Modern Paganisms focus on the feminine divine, and offer women key liturgical and leadership roles. They require no belief; they are religions of gnosis and/or of practice. And they frequently foreground a strong environmental message that is attractive to many young people. Sexuality is celebrated rather than condemned; creativity is valued and rewarded; and there are ample opportunities to tailor practice to the individual by combining elements eclectically.”
The demographics that she delineated tallied with my experience of the attendees at many of the pagan gatherings that I have attended in recent years where well educated, middle class, middle aged women have consistently out numbered their male counterparts. This led me to look at the feminine aspect of new age spirituality in general and recently, having become more involved with a group that organizes Public pagan events here in Melbourne I have had some first hand experience of being involved in helping to publicize women’s only gatherings that are being held by Lady Elizabeth Rose called Mumma Moon.
While these events aren’t specifically Pagan and don’t involve witchcraft per se, there is a strong enough current of goddess worship to mark them as truly new age and, curious to find out what these gatherings are all about I spent a pleasant afternoon talking to Lizzy Rose about what she is doing with these gatherings, where they began and where they are going. I began with a set series of questions for Lizzy but as we began to chat I let her talk on about these gatherings, about which she is genuinely passionate and the interview turned into a discussion of Lady Rose’s origins as a witch and her inspiration for going into public celebrations of the Pagan Sabbats as well as the motives behind her Mumma Moon gatherings.
I will leave a detailed account of Lady Elizabeth Rose’s path through witchcraft for another post except to say that she has a lifetime of experience in the Craft and has worked for many years as a psychic after spending her life since childhood using her gifts and first registering as a Melbourne’s Medium in 1995. Lizzy has also spent her life in the entertainment industry as an actress and vocalist and so it was probably inevitable that, after consultation with the senior members of her original coven, she decided to develop her public persona as a witch.
During our chat Lizzy told me that as long ago as 1987 she was drawn to hold women’s only gatherings when she saw the need for women to have an opportunity to get together to bond and share their feelings and experiences. She went on to pursue this avenue through the Star of Ishtar group’s Red Tent Women’s Circles and passed through their training program in 2009. She later left this group and struck out on her own after wanting to be able to be more flexible with her gatherings, and to be able to improvise them more in an effort to keep them “in the moment” and to make them more relevant to the women that are attending them
That isn’t to say that these circles are all improvisation as Lizzy begins her preparations by meditating on what she will bring to each gathering individually. There is also a constant structure which is a synthesis of theory, practice and ritual that revolves around helping the women that attend to break down their facades and to open up to a sharing experience with the others in the circle.
“They come to the meetings not knowing anyone,” she told me, “not sure if it is alright or safe, and often end up making friendships that have lasted for years. A lot of them tell me that they feel like they have come home.” This experience is often cathartic and there have been occasions when the attendees have had overwhelming experiences that have been the turning point in important changes in their lives.
“The most memorable Mumma Moon ended with a lady going into labor.” laughed Lizzy, as she recalled some of her more enjoyable events.
The gatherings begin with the women in a circle sharing the ‘Oracle’. This is a ceremony in which they all have a chance to speak and as a catalyst Lizzy uses some simple device like drawing a Tarot Trump card and asking each individual to share what it means to them. Often she will have them hand around a piece of rose quartz and as each of them takes it it marks their chance to speak.
“We start with the oracle which is an opportunity for participants to share their feelings with the group.” said Lizzy, “A lot of women come in with the attitude of I am a lawyer or an executive or whatever and by the end of the night they have dropped that façade- it just isn’t necessary for them anymore.”
From this point Lizzy will lead the group into a meditation on what they have learned from their experience and then she will lead the group in some practice that is fun and creative and which helps to cement the bonds that they have formed. The theme of each evening is unique to the individual gathering and based upon the theme that Lizzy derives from the phase of the moon, thus the gatherings are called Mumma Moon.
Lizzy has taken these gatherings across country Victoria and regularly holds them at Eltham in the Melbourne’s semi-rural outer suburbs. The demand for Mumma Moon has even extended further with Lizzy having received invitations to hold them in other cities around Australia and even in California. This demand would seem to indicate that she has found a genuine need for these events from women themselves as all of the Mumma Moon meetings are held in a private home by invitation. This makes each Mumma Moon gathering an invitation by women to anywhere between 5 and 30 other women who she may or, more likely, may not already know to come to her home and share an evening of spiritual exploration. There is implicitly no religious expectation and to attend it isn’t necessary to be a pagan or a witch or even to believe in anything particularly at all. It is only necessary to have the desire to feel a community with other women and to share a part of life’s journey with them, even if only for a single evening.