Sunday, September 7, 2014

dennis: RENEWAL OF WEDDING VOWS IN A FEMALE-LED MARRIAGE

Nancy and i recently renewed our wedding vows. We have done this twice before when She decided the evolution of our relationship necessitated putting it on a new plateau of shared understanding, both to ourselves and to the congregation. We were members of another congregation but left because that group was male-led and very parochial in its conduct. We want spirituality in our lives but not at the expense of compromising our beliefs as expressed in the workings of our Female-led marriage.

Our new congregation is a significant departure from the old. We are members of a group that worships Female deities and explores the Divine Feminine. Our congregation looks on all Women as Goddesses, worthy of male respect, homage, and worship. Our approach to spirituality is refreshingly broad and has us exploring and incorporating a variety of beliefs. We seek to use scripture that rewrites traditional Biblical passages with Female references.  In-depth references to the Divine Feminine in scripture interpretation can easily be found on-line.

Women hold all positions of authority and leadership within our congregation. Any Woman joining is a full member and, with appropriate instruction, can rise to be Priestesses, those Who lead worship services. Above the Priestesses are the Elders of our congregation. They are all Women Who have exhibited wisdom and understanding and Who are respected by all in the congregation; Nancy’s Mother Sue is an Elder. When the Elders speak, everyone listens!

Elders conduct discussions, ceremonies, and rituals and, in addition, serve on the Council of Wise Women to which members – including men – may bring issues, questions, and disputes for consideration, or may simply seek advice and discussion. The Council sits as needed with most issues heard by a panel of three to seven Wise Women.

There are strict rituals associated with bringing issues to the Wise Women for their consideration. In bringing an issue to the Elders all parties agree to fully accept the decision of the Wise Women; there is no appeal process. And acceptance of that decision means the recommended solutions must be implemented. The Elders usually deliberate on the items brought before them, so one cannot expect an immediate answer; a response may take hours, days, or weeks. Whenever the Wise Women arrive at a decision, the parties bringing it are summoned to hear the disposition provided. The Council of Wise Women also sits as an administrative authority managing the congregation’s day-to-day business.

While men are most welcome to worship in our congregation, they must be sponsored by a Female member and likely will not be elevated to positions of authority. men are to be respectful and courteous at all times. There are numerous protocols in play that are taught men by their sponsoring Woman. men are, for example, to use appropriate honorifics, and these differ from those that might be used outside the congregation – “Ma’am” isn’t used here! men are permitted to speak only when spoken to, and are not allowed to speak at all for their first year in the congregation. men are also expected to financially support the congregation with weekly contributions as well as making appropriate contributions when receiving special services such as submitting a question to the Council of Wise Women.

Our vow-renewal ceremony was conducted in the presence of the congregation and was brief.

At the altar i knelt before my wife and kissed her hand as a sign of reverence, referring to her as “my Goddess.” Then i said, “Dear Nancy, i promise to love You, to honor You, to worship Uou, and to obey You.” I continued, “i recognize You as my divine Goddess, the center of my life. You are infallible and beyond fault. All that i have and all that i am is Yours.”

i remained kneeling as Nancy said, “You have pledged yourself to Me and the Divine Goddess. You promise your obedient devotion.”

A wedding ring was handed to Nancy, and she slipped it onto my finger, saying, “With this ring you become Mine as you have asked. I promise to love you and guide you and in so doing, better us both”.

She then added, “Woman is the ruler of the world. She is infallible and beyond fault; She stands above all men as I stand over you.” She finished, “Wise is the man who follows Woman; do you follow Me?” i replied, “Yes, my Goddess, i follow You, i obey You, allow me to serve You as You see fit.”

i continued kneeling before Nancy. She does not get a ring as a part of the ceremony since she is a free spirit beholden only to Herself and Her wishes. men, on the other hand, do get a ring, a reference to the single-ring ceremony of ages past where the Woman received a ring indicative of Her commitment but the man didn’t, indicative of his freedom despite being married. The roles have been reversed in our congregation; thus, i have committed myself to Her and in so doing belong to Her and accept whatever She wishes.

The ceremony nearly complete, She extends Her hand and i gently kiss it. She walks away and only then do i rise, take Her arm and follow Her. We greet our guests in the reception line, and i now am privileged to kiss the Bride!


Nancy’s gift to me was a pair of gold earrings. My gift to Her was a three-diamond ring. She is pleased with it. It was an invigorating ceremony, all the more so given all those in attendance.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...


dennis: What a lovely ceremony! To me it symbolizes and ritualizes the beautiful dependence of men on Women for guidance and leadership, as well as their obedience (this latter should be the unquestioned basis of marriage for the male). Perhaps, some would say the idea that woman is “infallible” is extreme or blasphemous. I don’t quite agree. To me it is simply a way of making sure that men look on women as Goddesses and treat them with appropriate reverence and awe. On earth Women are the gracious “helpers” of men (eziers), acting as a conduit between them and the Divine. Is that a good interpretation dennis or is there something more?

I also like the fact that the male gets the ring but not the woman. To be owned by a woman is of course the devout, though sometimes secret, wish of a lot us males, which is part of what makes the whole thing so beautiful. But, much more important than male dependence is that it shows that Nancy is a true liberated woman, answering to and without obligation to any man in anything. Completely free to have relationships outside of marriage. Marriage is all about her fulfilling all of her potentials. Including her pleasure. Female privilege at its best.

The raising up of women above males like this in public is just very inspiring and reassuring to me, because it counters all the unnatural macho propaganda that I was brought up with and is so hard to get away from in the dominant culture. I feel comforted just hearing about it, feeling that it is possible we could live in an emerging better world guided by the wisdom of Women. So much credit should go to Nancy and the other women in your church for making such a ceremony possible.

I wish I could have been there at the wedding vow renewal. Thank you so much for giving us all a birds-eye account of this Female-affirming event. The fact that there is a new church set up to support these sorts of rituals shows that they could spread. (I hope there are churches like this in other locations?)

LS

Anonymous said...

dennis: What a lovely ceremony! To me it symbolizes and ritualizes the beautiful dependence of men on Women for guidance and leadership, as well as their obedience (this latter should be the unquestioned basis of marriage for the male). Perhaps, some would say the idea that woman is “infallible” is extreme or blasphemous. I don’t quite agree. To me it is simply a way of making sure that men look on women as Goddesses and treat them with appropriate reverence and awe. On earth Women are the gracious “helpers” of men (eziers), acting as a conduit between them and the Divine. Is that a good interpretation dennis or is there something more?

I also like the fact that the male gets the ring but not the woman. To be owned by a woman is of course the devout, though sometimes secret, wish of a lot us males, which is part of what makes the whole thing so beautiful. But, much more important than male dependence is that it shows that Nancy is a true liberated woman, answering to and without obligation to any man in anything. Completely free to have relationships outside of marriage. Marriage is all about her fulfilling all of her potentials. Including her pleasure. Female privilege at its best.

The raising up of women above males like this in public is just very inspiring and reassuring to me, because it counters all the unnatural macho propaganda that I was brought up with and is so hard to get away from in the dominant culture. I feel comforted just hearing about it, feeling that it is possible we could live in an emerging better world guided by the wisdom of Women. So much credit should go to Nancy and the other women in your church for making such a ceremony possible.

I wish I could have been there at the wedding vow renewal. Thank you so much for giving us all a birds-eye account of this Female-affirming event. The fact that there is a new church set up to support these sorts of rituals shows that they could spread. (I hope there are churches like this in other locations?)

LS

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your posting about this new congregation. How many members does the church have? Is it growing? Bill

Devoted Chastity Husband said...

Could you share more about your church?

Alex said...

Dennis,

Would you mind commenting more on the Wise Women, the rules of silence and how everything works?

Alex

Obedient husband said...

Infallible?
Using words like that in a supposedly serious ceremony causes the whole thing to seem like little more than staging a play-scene.

Promising to love, honor, and obey is pretty cool.
Referring to her as infallible is just silly.

However, I've noted before that the Nancy and Dennis relationship bears elements that are simply not for everyone. This would be one of those elements.
Thanks for sharing.

Mark Remond said...

dennis responds to Alex:

Quite straightforward really... The Wise Women are Elders in our congregation; the typical Wise Woman is at least in Her late 40s and so is looked upon as one with plenty of life experiences upon which to make judgments and understand issues. Such a Woman commands and receives respect of the entire congregation. The Council of Wise Women meets regularly as a group to discuss practical issues such as the governance, finance, rules, and regulations. This group also sets the direction for our worship and other ceremonies, often planning these in great detail and taking them from many different texts.

It's from this larger group that a smaller group of Wise Women - typically three to seven Women - come together to sit on a tribunal to hear individual issues. They pass judgments, determine guilt or innocence, provide advice, and so on. These Women are respected by the entire congregation and the protocols associated with the tribunal bear this out. For example, even Women must curtsy to the members of a tribunal in session; the rules for men are more elaborate. Men, for example, must bow deeply, kneel, and remain kneeling until dismissed by the tribunal.

As far as rules of silence, it's simple, men don't speak during their first year in the congregation; afterward they can speak only when spoken to or when their comments are solicited - usually not very often. A man may speak to his Woman sponsor and through Her communicate to the congregation, but it is VERY rare that such male communication is permitted - i've never heard of it ever happening. males are also required to read a series of twenty books on a variety of spiritual and Feminist topics, memorize chants and prayers, and so on. We're open in what we believe and curious about the beliefs of others, so one can encounter many different beliefs in our church just so they are brought by Women...

The Priestesses and Elders conduct ceremonies and rituals such as the renewal of wedding vows that Nancy and i took. They also conduct classes and study groups on a wide range of topics both religious and secular - an example of secular readings and teaching is the various Feminist readings that take place regularly.

Mark Remond said...

dennis responds to Devoted Chastity Husband:

Originally founded as a refuge for Feminist thought and philosophy, our congregation has broadened considerably to include the worship of Female deities from numerous religions and cultures. Women run and administer the congregation and conduct all ceremonies, rituals, and meditation sessions. Women are considered to be divine and all-knowing but none more than the Elders of our congregation. The congregation espouses the superiority of Women, the role of men as subordinate to Women, and advocates Female-led relationships.

tony said...

Mark,
This church sounds similar in some respects to the principles of the Service of Mankind Church, founded in Northern Ca some years ago. Is or was there any relationship? However, this one sounds far more advanced in organization, congregation and procedures. They are certainly advocating positive policies and beliefs, and I wish them well. Congrats to Nancy and dennis. Renewals are always a good idea, and it was very admirable to display their respective roles in the marriage openly and proudly.
tony

Anonymous said...

lstim5e Thank you.
This takes my breath away. I would love to join such a church.
How did you raise the money to pay for Nancy's ring?
A poet

Mark Remond said...

dennis responds to Anonymous ("How many members does the church have..."):

i'm unsure as to the exact number of members but we are growing. Women make up the vast majority of members since much of our congregation's focus is on Women, their beliefs, their spiritual perspectives, and on a general advocacy and support for Women's concerns. men are admitted with the ongoing sponsorship of a Woman but only after completing an educational program, community service, church service, an initiation ritual, and after making an appropriate financial contribution. There are rules that limit the admission of men to a small percentage of the Women members; i believe that one man can be considered only after six Women have been admitted. my friend tom and his Wife, Linda, sought admission; Linda was immediately admitted as a full member, but tom had to wait weeks before he could be admitted to the year-long program that would grant him male membership.

Our congregation is growing; it seems every week there is a new face. We are largely a congregation of Women, all wonderfully assertive Women with new ideas all worth pursuing. Many of the Female faces i see are the same as those of the Women active in the Woman's Center, a Feminist organization.

As i noted, men are admitted but in no small part because the congregation needs the muscle, labor, and money and because Women have faith that participating in the Woman-centric rituals and worshiping Goddesses will result in a positive change in the male members - so far, it has!

It's interesting that while we are a congregation, a church so to speak, we have no church per se. Rather, we meet for worship and study in individual homes when the group is small, usually on weekdays. When we have Saturday and Sunday services and larger groups or when we have rituals, we are able to use the church building of another congregation that has been very supportive. Their support is all the more impressive since much of our worship diverges from this other group's beliefs.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts were the same as Tony's, it does sound similar to the Service of Mankind Church. I am (or was) a male member of SMC (it has been somewhat dormant in recent years). I have seen a video of an SMC marriage where the Woman inserted a wedding ring into the pierced penis of Her husband. This sounds like a fantasy but I know the couple and thirty years later they are still married. Admittedly to have this done in reality may not be what everyone hopes for, even those who fantasize about it. When I was married Wife simply caned me. (lawslave)

Anonymous said...

Dear Goddess Nancy,
Congratulations on Your Goddess Centered Marriage! Thank You for letting dennis describe Your beautiful Renewal of Vows.
I find it moving to hear of Your marriage that is clearly on Your own terms.

I love Your words:
"Woman is the Ruler of the world."
"She stands above all men..."
You take my breath away...
I hope You celebrated with one of Your favorite boyfriends...

dennis, you deserve credit for kneeling at the feet of Nancy,
promising to obey Her,
Honoring Her as the Goddess in your life.
Follow Her in all ways, and honor Her as Goddess.

Best of luck to both of you
A poet.

Mark Remond said...

dennis responds to tony:

We are advocating positive policies and beliefs - anytime one puts Women in charge and as subjects of worship, it's positive! One of our main missions is to empower Women while putting men in their proper place. If Women can take what they see and hear in our congregation into their homes and relationships, then everyone benefits. And i'll add that when Women take control, the biggest and happiest beneficiaries are men!

Nancy and i have renewed our vows on other occasions too, each time when She determined that our married lives had reached a point where it was necessary for our own clarification and as a declaration to a wider group. In the past we've professed vows in front of family; this time it was a larger congregation. It was exciting to do so in the presence of a broader group.

Mark Remond said...

dennis responds to Anonymous ("How did you raise the money...?")

i receive a generous allowance from Nancy because She recognize i have a responsibility to buy gifts for Her, Sue, and for Women in the family and in our social circle at large. At least half of my allowance is spent or set aside for gifts for the Women. i wouldn't make such a purchase without consulting Sue. She accompanied me on shopping trips to visit jewelers and was instrumental in my picking the perfect ring.

Sue was also instrumental in my paying for it. i only had half the money for the ring and dared not buy something lesser. Sue lent me half the money needed and i'm now paying Her back with payments from my monthly allowance. The money borrowed was repaid with the first twelve monthly payments but, per Sue's terms, i have to make an additional six monthly payments to Her to be released from my loan. Sue or Nancy are my only source of money outside of my allowance; i'm not permitted credit cards or loans of any kind, even for a gift such as this for my Wife. As always there's a bit of ritual involved. So, every month it's cash and a note of thanks on 'pretty' stationery handed personally to Sue in a pink envelope - with my thanks and a stoop and bow! Remember: She who controls the money, controls the man!

tony said...

To Anonymous (My thoughts were the same ...): Quite a coincidence. I too was a member and have seen that video which was shown to me by the actual couple when I stayed with them in SF for a few days nearly 25 years ago. The piercing was done as part of the ceremony, but in an adjoining room witnessed by just the immediate wedding party and priestess, as I recall. I am glad to hear they are still together, but I have lost touch with them. Wonderful couple tho. tony

tony said...

Thank you for your comments, Dennis. You are so right in your beliefs, and I admire your openness and how you continue to renew your vows and display your feelings so others may share and learn. tony

Anonymous said...

Tony, You recall it correctly. He was then taken out of the bedroom and paraded around the larger room on a leash. She is now semi-retired from the Church and they have moved to another California city. I do not want to get too specific in this forum. Wife loaned me to Her as a party slave and I served at the LaMadrona parties of 1994, and 1995. She permits me the honor of calling Her every six months or so.(lawslave)

Anonymous said...

Very impressive, this level of organization, and so thorough. I'm curious about a few things. Could you give examples of issues which have been brought to the tribunal? If it's an issue between a woman and a man, do they always rule in favor of the woman?

And you mentioned that men must undergo an initiation in order to become members of the church. Are you able to tell us anything about that?

Thank you and best wishes.

Michael

tony said...

lawslave, give her my regards when you do talk. if she remembers! I think it was around this time in 1990 or 91. I headed to Japan on business after my visit.
Regards, tony

Mark Remond said...

dennis responds to Anonymous (who wants to know more about the Tribunal):

The Tribunal considers a variety of issues. While it can function as a court of sorts, its usual business includes routine items of the congregation's business. Some recent ones include the following:
--Approved one man's membership in the congregation
--Rejected two proposed male memberships in the congregation
--Ruled against the man in a dispute as to assessed contributions to the congregation
--Ruled for the Woman in a dispute with Her husband over housework
--Advised for the Woman in Her desire to relocate for a job opportunity
--Settled an internal budget dispute regarding activities funding

Do they always rule in favor of the Woman? Not intentionally, but since the Tribunal is made up of Women who bring a strong Female perspective and who totally dismiss traditional patriarchy then, yes, Women may see a favorable outcome more often.

As for initiation in many Female-led organizations i've been associated with, male members have to be appropriately vetted to ensure they are committed to constructive participation. Women want serious participation, not games or 'counter arguments.' So an initiation process is usually established. In our congregation this includes:
--Female sponsorship – a man must be sponsored by a Female Who will be his Mentor and guide throughout his initiation
--Appropriate financial support – male applications and members must provide financial contributions initially and on an ongoing basis.
--Study – men must commit to study and learn important elements of the congregation's beliefs, rituals, protocols, etc. male memorization and recitation of key chants and rituals are mandatory.
--Behavior – Men recognize the innate authority of Female members and act accordingly. Men are to speak only when spoken to and may not speak for the entire period of initiation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you dennis,
Can you tell us what the chants are?
What the rituals are?
Thank you
s

Anonymous said...

While I wait for the next post, I'd like to ask a question about spirituality and silence.
In many places monks and others remain "celibate" of words -- taking vows of silence or making "silence fasts" (in Judaism, for instance, some people take a "silent day" in Atonement Day although it is not very common. In Buddhism and in Christianity, especially way back "in the day" this became common too but more among monks).

I read about how men in your church are required to be silent the first year and then only speak when spoken to.

What do you think about silence? Is it a way of showing that Women's opinions are more important and that men are to be pretty, are there to serve? Or is it more of a way of "letting go", of being "led"?

I find that I don't really like the idea of celibacy (I hate all the talk about chastity belts, for instance. OK, maybe for punishment one time for 2 days for bad behavior, but not as a lifestyle!). However, I think maybe taking days of silence or times of silence might be a form of celibacy I can be more open to. It is more humane, in my opinion, and more spiritual. Do you also find it deferential to Women? Do you think this is a big reason?

And another question. What is your take on writing or signaling or communicating in another way during a "no talk" moment?

I find that a man can be objectified as a "pretty object" for the Women's lust if he learns to mainly talk with his facial expressions, not his mouth. His mouth is mainly there to provide the Superior Women with other, more personal services...

Thank you. I would, of course, love it if Ms. Nancy or a Lady would like to address my questions, but I'm eager to hear from you too.

Alex

Anonymous said...

Got it "tony, 1990-91" I will probably call around the Solstice.
(lawslave)

Mark Remond said...

dennis responds to Alex:

You are reading way too much into silence and speaking when spoken to. Silence during the first year is very simply because one learns more from listening than they do speaking. So, men are to be silent and listen; this is a theme i've mentioned on many occasions.

Men are allowed to speak if responding to a direct question from a Woman or they can recite readings, chants, and so on, if so instructed. Otherwise silence is the rule. As one Priestess is fond of telling men, "Shut the mouth and open the mind".

SafiOwnz said...

Thank you for sharing this post. It was facinating to read since I have never heard of a group like this. Would you mind sharing the names of the twenty books of required reading. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic. Is there a branch in the Chicago are by chance?

Anonymous said...

Tony, re the SMC Priestess you stayed with in the early 90's on your way to Japan: within the past month She had to travel into my geographical area on personal business and invited my Wife and me to meet Her for breakfast. I mentioned your post and She said She remembered you and you were a very nice man. (lawslave)

tony said...

Lawslave: Thanks for the update. I wish them both well. If you'd like to contact me or send her my email, you can get it from Mark.
Best regards, Tony

Anonymous said...

She did not say anything about wanting to contact you. I only contact Her at specific pre-set points in time set by Her! This was the first in person audience She has granted me in a decade. However, if you want to get back in touch I would suggest going through SMC. I wish you luck. (lawslave)

Gaias Pet said...

I ageee with Obedient Husband. My wife and I try to recognise each other's human failings and we both strive to uphold the other and help them not to fail. I choose to serve my wife because I am a better man and husband for doing so. Exercising her power over me has made her a better wife. Honouring the Divine Feminine within her has made for a better marriage. Works for us, but to each their own.