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!