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patricia pearlman
The Goddess Temple of Sekhmet
A Gift Economy Project

First a prayer and then a pledge of allegiance. Here’s the prayer:

I will fly; I know barbed wire, [thumb tacks], bare halls. I’ve seen the white walls of slavery, and I can transform them, too. Each thing examined regains beauty. I will fly into colour itself, red as the fiery robes of huge women, blue as the veins in her breast, green as her hair trailing on the sea, purple as her most sacred self. I will fly like a plant flies, invisible in small seed pods, borne on the friendly goddess winds, touching endless possibilities. Someday, the sod of rich land, where to sprout, knowing I will fly again, I will be rich weighted by a hundred flying women, gold flashes from caring, and as they fly by my window, wearing images of the goddess next to their skin, I’ll fly in a rising mist of desire, I’ll touch the smoke, taste the wet air, fly above, fly below, infinite acrobat. I will fly, fly in dreams, fly working, break out of the shadow flying, skywrite letters and invocations, fly lonely as purple dipping sun, or fly in clouds of beautiful women, or drifting into the [warm dress] of the Mother herself. I’ll see as I fly; my eyes will fly, I am simple and splendid in flight. Like all natural things, a simple miracle, a woman in flight.

A pledge of allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the Earth, and to the flora, fauna, and human life that it supports, one planet, indivisible, with faith, air, water, and soil, economic justice, equal rights, and peace for all.

The Sekmet Temple is a product of the gift economy. It’s a gift to all that go to visit it. It was the greatest gift for me. Living the gift is very unique. It has been wonderful living the gift economy. At the Temple, there are no member- ship dues. We don’t pass the hat because we don’t wear one. And we don’t have a donation box. People will say, “Well, what if I want to donate?” We reply, “if you want to give a gift, that’s fine. But it’s also important to give others the gift of receiving.” So when people offer me a gift I never say no, because even if I may not have a use for it, I know I’ll find somebody who does. And this way it’s a gift that keeps giving.

If we deny some of those things, like all the gifts that the Goddess or the Cre- ator provide, it would be like denying what our Mother wants to give us. At the Temple, we do weddings, christenings, hand-fasting, legal weddings, and all the rites of passage. I also give lessons, instructions, and there is never a charge or fee for any of these things. Some of my colleagues or acquaintances in the area say, “Oh, you’ve got to charge, or people won’t appreciate it.” But as soon as you put a fee on these things, that’s all they’re worth. And so you can’t charge for anything like this. And then they would say, “Well, for instructions you have to charge, because they have to make a commitment.”

Anybody who drives to the Temple has made a commitment. We have a guesthouse that can accommodate twelve people. The guesthouse has all the conveniences, kitchen etc., and women from all over come and visit. The guesthouse is also a gift to the women visiting. That’s no charge for that, no fee.

Most of the things that I have, have been gifts from people visiting the Temple. When people come to visit, if they aren’t going to stay, I will serve them tea and chocolate. That’s what witches do. That’s how you know them. It has been a wonderful experience all these years, and the hundreds and hundreds of women that I have met from all over, not only appreciate the gift economy, but practice it as well.

I would like to pass one little thing on that I learned from someone once. No matter what your budget is, you can hold onto a few extra dollars a week that you can carry around with you. I started this practice a while ago, and I use it for

The sand-coloured stucco Temple opens to the elements of nature, with archways to the four directions and an open roof to the sky. Photo: Anne Key

people who I see begging out in the streets. I always have x amount of dollars that I can give to them, so when somebody comes up to me and is in need, I don’t have to say “no.” Just couple of dollars here or a dollar there. I learned this from a woman who was practicing the gift economy. And this is a really great thing, because you don’t feel like you’re being used, but you’ve got this special little extra, this special something for somebody who really needs it, and I like to encourage people to give what they can.

Let me tell you about how I got to be at the Temple. When I moved to Las Vegas, I didn’t know where I was going to live, or what I was going to do. I as doing a radio show for awhile but I wanted to move outside of the city. I wanted to be in the desert. It was a full moon, 1993; it was on Samhain, which is our special day, and it also was on a Sunday that the clock had turned back, so it was a 25-hour day, full moon, and Samhain. Three things. So I wrapped myself in a white sheet and went out under the moon and told the Goddess, “I want to lose this life, it’s coming out of the closet, the broom closet. I want to be in this community and live it 25 hours a day.” A year to the day is when I took over as Priestess at the Goddess Temple.

We have the power to do things, to put out our energy, and to make changes. I would like quote Sojourner Truth. She was speaking at the National Women’s Suffrage Convention in 1852 when she said, “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again.”

And now we are asking to do this, and men, you better let us!

Patricia Pearlman was the Priestess of the Temple of the Goddess Spirituality dedi- cated to Sekhmet in Cactus Springs, Nevada, for more than ten years. She established the Temple as an institution, giving it a foothold in an unlikely environment, between a nuclear test site and the airforce base, not far from the adult disneyland that is Las Vegas. She created and sustained a community of people who visited the temple for rituals, healing and counselling. She passed away on March 24, 2006.

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