Dethroning The Patriarch: From Where Do You Return?
The witching hour welcomes us, this Priestess and her daughter, as we so lovingly plant the sacred herbs high on our moonlit hill.
Tonight, under this late-winter moon, we pay homage to the beloved women whose bodies twisted at the noose-ends, right here where we crouch. You see, I have taught my daughter of her birthright, and she weeps with me now as we dig our fingers in Gaia’s mud.
She, so young, has been told exactly what she’s up against in this world of ours. I will hide nothing from you, dear one, I say. There will come a day when we need not fight so hard, but this is not that day. These nameless mothers and daughters we honor now were not unlike us, and their souls howl at us from under this sacred ground.
She wipes her tears, stands, and pulls her small sword from the dirt. I know, Mama, but who are we fighting? There is no one here but us. My daughter, small body laden with cold iron armor, nods below to her right. We are surrounded by our sisters, our mothers, our grandmothers. Mama, we are safe!
I click my mother’s tongue, and stand, my own heart bursting with love so fierce and maternal I could level a patriarchal tribe with a single beat of my pulse. Camped at the foot of the hill are our fellow warriors, and these hardened priestesses are all my young one knows.
She has been raised inside of a tent so blood-red, but she has never really seen this enemy of which I speak so often. But they are there, my child. Do not become complacent. Look beyond the ring of security the Goddess has created for us. Look deep into the dark, and you will see them.
My daughter squints, seeing past our medicine women and sleeping babes. For the first time, my young one sees the ancient threat that has plagued womankind for thousands of years; not men, not the divine masculine, but these ones. Yes, tonight, our enemy comes in the form of a crooked crown-wearing, self-proclaimed king.
He rides a horse beaten bloody, and surges toward our camp, but he, this fragile king, knows nothing of the formidable feminine he seeks to conquer.
We are temple dancers ready for battle. We are mothers who would lay our own lives down willingly to protect our daughters’ bodies. We are Mother Earth. We are the Goddess returned.
We have been waiting for this since the first woman was stoned for her sacred sexuality, since the first law was written to encage our wombs, since the first infant girl was drowned, since the first clitoris was snipped. King, we have been waiting for this battle, and you will not win. Best for you to turn back now, while you still are able.
I take my daughter’s hand and watch this scene unfold with bated breath. Our circle encases this fallen king, surrounding him and awaiting his argument. The old, hooded grandmothers stand with the mothers, bare-breasted, baby-wearing, and battle-ready. The young girls, strong in their first-blood, clasp the arms of their sacred brothers.
Full moonlight befalls the faces of those who are not amused, and I whisper to my young one: Do not be afraid, dear daughter. This means change is upon us. Our world is waking up, and tonight we will bear witness to the inevitable. Listen to this trembling king now as he drips such futile hatred from his lips.
Yes, the king’s twisted face shows pure fear, but he puffs out his chest: Women, I have returned, and I have come to reclaim these bodies you call your own.
Hearty laughter starts as a low rumble in the circle, but swells quickly to cackles, so deafening and true. This is a king? This is to whom we are meant to curtsy, and for whom we are meant to open our legs? Ha! Not on this warrior’s watch.
An old Priestess steps forward: And from where exactly are you returning, king?
The frail one clears his throat: Well, I… I’m returning from a time when men ruled over women, a time when you would have fallen to the ground and worshiped me, a time when all of your bodies belonged to me.
I squeeze my daughter’s hand, whispering: He shouldn’t have said that.
No laughter runs through the crowd now, but a girl younger than my daughter wails: Liar! Liar! Liar!
The king’s horse is startled, and bucks, tossing the weak one to the ground before trotting off toward those who will protect her. The rusted crown falls from the man’s head and rolls to feet of the old Priestess. She pushes it deep into the mud with her bare wrinkled foot and steps forward: King, our bodies have never belonged to you.
Even the most twisted, backward statute affirming your superiority over our wombs does not grant you ownership over our daughters. This time you speak of, does not exist anymore. She smiles. You know that; that’s why you’ve come.
My daughter and I begin to descend the hill, keeping our eyes fixed on the broken one, and my little girl’s hardened heart softens: I feel bad for him, Mama, she says. What are we going to do to him?
Having no answer for her, I stay silent. Truth be told, I too have pity for this fallen king. He is homeless, without a time or place. He is helpless, followed by those who have no merit. He is dying a godless death, and I suspect the answer to my daughter’s question is this: Nothing. We need not do anything but show him our steadfastness.
Emboldened to speak, a young and brave-hearted man leaves the safety of his mother’s arms and moves toward the king: I believe you are confused, king, the young one says. You have no entitlement. Is your lingam proof of ownership over every female body? I, poor king, am a man, but we are not of the same kind.
The king’s face falls in disappointment, but he mutters some misogyny nonetheless. The air shifts then, the Goddess herself blowing her blessed breath on this standoff.
A young mother, so heartened, spits some liquid, vitriolic rage at the weak one, burning his eyes and making him clutch his own body in fear. My heart-drum quickens, and I whisper in my daughter’s ear: Do you have your sword? The circle of women closes in on the crumbled, anguished man, so now like a sickly patient.
The righteous rage burns bright red in the eyes of my sisters. You will not come here to our mother’s land and stick your flag in our ground. We are ready. You will not steal our daughters from their beds. We are ready. You will not romanticize abuse. We are ready. You will not wage wars that kill our babies. We are ready.
Thunder rolls behind the waning Quickening Moon, and I look behind me to the ancient hill. There, the dirt-covered corpses of accused witches stand, as strong in death as they were in life. Above us, the stars shine as the eyes of the Goddess Herself, so returned, so alive, so desperately desiring a bloodless revolution.
The king moves no longer, frozen either in fear or death; it matters not.
The old priestess speaks, her cracked face showing no victory: We must be prepared for these visits, Women, for they are patriarchy’s death rattle. This king is a hate-born reaction to our Mama’s homecoming.
Teach your sons to see these foul ones for what they are as they grasp, with broken hands, for a power that was never theirs in the first place. Repeat after me. This body is mine.
This body is mine, the circle rumbles.
This womb is mine.
This womb is mine.
These wounds are mine.
These wounds are mine.
And I hug my dear daughter closely, protecting her with all that I am, with all that I will be.
Danielle Dulsky is a multi-passionate entrepreneur, energy-healer, Yoga teacher, multi-media artist, and magickal mentor. She holds the highest designation from Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT500, and is on a mission to inspire women to be fearless creators of their sacred work. She is the founder and creatrix of the Living Mandala Yoga teacher training programs, a Reiki Master in the Usui-Tibetan tradition, and long-time believer in Earth-based traditions. Her work is based on sensing and transforming energetic vibrations, empowering individuals to discover their potential for authentic abundance, using artistic practice intuitively, and holding space for women to unearth their inner goddess through the magick of sisterhood. Danielle leads women circles, witchcraft workshops, a teaching coven, and psychic development intensives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania where she lives with her partner Ryan, sons Bodhi and Sage, and pet-familiars Jeepster and Raven. She believes that all women alive today are meant to be instrumental in supporting the return of the Divine Feminine. You could contact her via email.