A young woman from Scandinavia was on a working holiday in Australia, and by chance, we met up at a big seasonal celebration in Sydney. Over the weekend, we shared ceremony, dreams and secrets. I found all my usual reservations and boundaries falling aside, as that unique spark within her found the spark within me. Once we left that gathering, she would join with our Circle over the following months, celebrating the seasons and turning of the Sun.
As the Autumn became crisp and cold, heralding the coming winter, she shared with me that she would like to experience a Maidenhood ceremony. She explained that, when only a young teenager, she had experienced the kind of abuse that strips away the joy of youth and growing sexuality. That could now admit that she had hated her womanly body. She had directed all her anger and loathing toward this beautiful vessel which, for others, was a place of ecstatic experience.
Over her travels around the world, and her joining with our Circle these past months, she felt that she was ready to face the abuse, move past it, and reclaim her female body as she wasn’t able to all those years ago.
I worked with her to outline a simple but powerful ritual, and on a full moon, all the women of our circle gathered on the beach. She wore orange – making a connection with her sacral chakra – and gave me white clothes for later. We gathered her among us, and with soft chanting, we created sacred space, calling to the energies of the strong earth, the rushing water, the whispering air, and the burning fire. We called to her gods, and her ancestors, to be with her and with us as we did this sacred work. We then all sat closely, and with our silence to hold her, we gave her the space to share her experience, the abuse, the feelings, the loss and the shame. For a long as she spoke, we listened.
When her tears, and ours, were glistening under the moon, she came to us individually, to be held, and to be told that she was beautiful, that we loved her. Then, with a watery smile, she stripped off those clothes that represented the old her, each piece thrown to the sand. Naked and free, we drummed as she walked into the waves, washing herself and cleansing as she needed.
When she returned to us from the water, her smile was luminescent, and her body strong and sure. Gently, we offered her the white dress, and then wrapped a specially-made white cloak about her shoulders. One of the women brought forth oil and we anointed her body. Then each of us stepped forward, with a gentle hand to her cheek or a soft embrace, whispering our blessings to this new maiden. Welcoming her into the world.
Then we all sat, leaning on each other, and shared in food and drink, laughing up to the moon, reveling in the power of the ceremony, and the inner joy you could see glowing from her eyes, her hands, her smile.