Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
This weekend was spent in Norfolk, catching up with old friends and meeting new. I had never been to Norfolk before and on Saturday morning I was thrilled to make a trip to Walsingham where a few of us visited the Shrine to Our Lady.
As we walked in we were instantly confronted by small groups of worshippers in the gardens taking part in individual services of devotion, some singing, some listening to the clergymen deliver their sermon. People from all walks of life and all nationalities clearly felt a draw to this place…but why?!
We made our way into the Shrine building itself, pleased to get out of the miserable drizzle. I was dubious, the thought of spending any length of time in heavily Catholic surroundings made me somewhat nervous but I was not only pleasantly surprised but blown away by the magnificence of the place. As I walked around, I noticed every little nook and crevice, every alcove and stairwell was dedicated to Saints and Deity, Mary and Child. The latter being an image I have grown to love and have a deep fondness for and I was awed by the beauty of its presence everywhere I turned, each image showing the same theme, each one in a different way and the presence of our lady in each of them remained undiminished no matter who had expressed it and whether it be on canvas, alabaster or intricate gold leaf. She was there, peacefully listening to the petitions of a hundred comers.
I got to spend some time alone, and i wondered the building again, drank a little water from the Holy Well and made my way to the central shrine house. Here in this understated building within a building, built as a replica of Mary’s supposed home in Nazareth I lit a small votive for my Grandmother (she was Catholics and it would have been her Birthday last week) as I lit the votive and sat it to rest in its place among the many, I realised I had lit this Candle not only for my Grandmother, but my Mother, their Mothers and ultimately the greatest Mother of all whose presence here was undeniable albeit expressed as a more socially acceptable depiction.
During the car journey back i got to thinking about my Faith, after the visit to the Walsingham shrine it had occurred to me that actually there is a deep spirituality to be found in Catholicism. The presence of the Goddess within those walls was overwhelming and i realised that it wouldn’t really be a huge leap from Witch to Monastic! Dual Faith indeed….but is it really?
It is not uncommon to hear of Witches who hold ‘Dual Faith observance’ those who follow the old ways yet work with much of the Judeo – Christian mythology. It is not uncommon to hear of Witches healing (and cursing) with the aid of psalms and it is not uncommon to hear of witches intoning the great God names of the Qabalah but is it really Dual Faith?
Despite having been so personally and positively affected by my time at Walsingham I am not about to convert, yet in the image of Mary and Child I see the face of the Lady, the great Stellar Maris, the Goddess night from whom all life stems, and in Her I see the great dark depths of the Earth, the waters of life which spew forth from so many of Britain’s Holy Wells, just like the one at Walsingham. In Mary, I see the sisters of Fate…The Mother who gave birth to the sacred King, Mary Magdalene as the Holy Bride who loved him, and again as the Ultimate who lifted him down from his Cross, anointed him and laid him to rest within the dark cavernous Earth.
I have come to realise it would be inaccurate to call myself a Witch of Dual Faith. I am of one faith with Fate as my Mistress, and she is in the face of every woman in every story from the Virgin Mary to Mary Magdalene. My Lady is alive in the hearts of all who seek to know her and she cares not what you call her….or what you call yourself. See is the real Alpha and Omega, begining and end.
Beloved Blood-Mother of my especial Breed
Welcome me in to your willing womb
Let me learn in life to love all that you are
That my seeking spirit may serve the Sangreal
For more info on The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham visit the official website