Unearth Your Sensual Goddess Within
By Joanne Tucker 



Outside, flickering flames rise into the darkened sky as brightly-dressed women dance around the fire, shaking rattles, beating drums, singing chants and howling to the moon. Inside is a lavishly decorated temple, complete with exotic statuary and original oil paintings depicting ancient and revered goddesses from cultures around the world. Do you have to travel to a far away land to connect to this group of goddess-loving women?

Not if you are a celebrant at the third annual Goddess Festival, held at the Center for Spiritual Discovery in Costa Mesa on May 13-14. This year’s theme, “Nurturing the Sensual Goddess Within,” honors the earthly, untamed, voluptuous, epicurean, passionate and romantic that dwells inside the body, mind and soul of every woman. The festival also features music, dance, feminine-affirming poetry readings, prayer and meditations.

Friday evening, the festival begins with High Priestess Jeanne Michele, a spiritually-oriented psychotherapist and facilitator of the Mary Magdalene Workshop at last year’s festival, who opens the evening’s ceremony and directs a connecting heart-sharing process. Practitioner Tinker Donnelly, who also teaches classes in making intuitive prayer sticks, then leads a unifying prayer and a deep meditation.   

The women, dressed in sparkling and flowing goddess finery, are then escorted outside to the courtyard. Rev. Joanne Coleman, dynamic leader and poet with a voice like modern-day goddess, Maya Angelou, opens the four directions and leads an East Indian life-changing release ritual around a blazing bonfire. The enlightened women then embrace their feminine power while dancing around the fire, shaking rattles and howling to the moon as flames leap into the cool spring night air.

At the all-day Saturday event, the women are sanctified with blessings and sage smudgings before entering the sacred temple. An altar-building ceremony begins as each woman is asked to place a personal sacred object on the sensory altar for a prayer ritual.

Rev. Joanne Coleman follows with a dramatic presentation entitled, “When the Body of God Was My Own,” followed by dance and yoga instructor Marilynn Quam-Valenzuela who performs poetic movements to a reading from the Imagine a Woman series.

From noon to 2:30 p.m., the center’s sunny patio is open for the women to enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch by Chef Cindy Keel, and to browse the colorful and beautiful wares and services of local goddess-affirming artists.

Festival attendees can choose from three afternoon workshops, “Dance of the Sacred Feminine,” “Creating the Sensual Doll,” and “Connecting with Your Sensual Self.” Or, you can spend a quiet time of meditation and reflection in the sanctified goddess temple until the day ends with time for gratitude and sharing.

The two-day festival, dedicated to nurturing the sensual goddess within, finishes as the four directions are closed and tantric dancing reaches a frenzied height until 5:30 p.m. when the festival ends.

The Goddess Festival opens on Friday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m. with registration and light refreshments, followed by the program in the temple which lasts until 10:00 p.m. On Saturday, the day begins at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 5:30 p.m. Participants are asked to bring a personal sacred object to place on the altar.

The cost is $45 for adults and $40 for seniors, which includes lunch, workshops and a crafts project. Seating is limited and the deadline for pre-registration is Sunday, May 8, 2005. For reservations, call Kathleen Havens at (714) 754-7399, ext. 23 All major credit cards accepted. For more information, visit www.cmcsd.org .

The Center for Spiritual Discovery is located at 2850 Mesa Verde Drive East in Costa Mesa. The Center teaches oneness, honors diversity, encourages spiritual growth in a safe and friendly environment, and practices affirmative prayer.

It holds two Sunday services: 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. with toddler care available at both services.

Joanne Tucker is the Communications Director for the Center for Spiritual Discovery and writes for the Center and other publications.

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