BANGOR, Maine — About a dozen women, men and children gathered Thursday at the Temple of the Feminine Divine to celebrate one of nature’s most basic gifts.
Though the temple’s priestesses and priest have conducted it in the past, Thursday’s Waters of the World ritual took on added significance in that it took place on Earth Day.
“It’s a concrete reminder that we’re all interrelated and that we all depend on water,” Caroline Gontoski, who was ordained a priestess through the temple last fall, said before the ritual’s 6 p.m. start time.
“Protecting the Earth is a way in which we honor and thank the divine for creating all of nature,” said Deanna Partridge, also an ordained priestess, explaining the significance of Thursday’s event.
“Earth Day is the perfect day for all who cherish nature and for those of us who feel closest to the divine when we are in nature to come together to recommit ourselves to the work of protecting the gifts and sustenance Mother Earth provides us with daily,” she said.
The ritual began with a ceremonial blending of waters on an altar decorated with spring flowers, a globe and other symbols inside the temple, located on the second floor of 31 Central St.
Those who brought water to use in the ritual described its source as they poured it into a white ceramic pitcher.
Priestess Jan Silbury brought water she collected eight years ago in Glastonbury, England, a place steeped in legends and myth. Hazel Littlefield, who officiated over the ritual, brought water from a previous ceremony that included samples from the Nile River, California and Italy.
Contributions of Keri Alley and her three children included rainwater, “love water” from the refrigerator and water that came from melted snow.
Others brought water from their own rain barrels and from an aquifer that flows 110 feet underneath the surface of the Earth.
The women in the group blessed the water through an ancient, secret song, sung seven times, that Littlefield said can be passed down only from woman to woman
Holding up signs featuring color prints of the planet Earth on recycled plywood poles, the group then formed a procession, singing as they walked to Norumbega Park along the Kenduskeag Stream.
They emerged from the brick building amid a brief sun shower that let up as they reached the stream’s side.
The blessed water was poured into the Kenduskeag Stream, carrying the blessing to the Penobscot River and then to the Atlantic Ocean.
From there, Littlefield noted, it will evaporate into the sky to form clouds before it returns to the Earth in the form of rain.
Before heading home, the celebrants promised to do their part to honor Gaia, Mother Earth.
“We ask that everyone here make a vow to do one thing this coming year to make the burden on the Earth easier. That’s what we vow to do, to help the Earth become cleaner and greener.”