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Babaylan…

I began to have a passion for liturgy and worship, realizing that how we worship defines what we truly believe. Liturgical rituals and expressions are some of the most powerful expressions of women’s celebrations. With this understanding, I wrote a Babaylan Celebration for women who turn forty. The babaylan is a female priestess in pre-colonial Philippines. She stood shoulder to shoulder with the datu, the political leader, and the panday, the economic leader. I believe she is a model for feminist leadership. This is a declaration of what a babaylan is and what women are and can be…

You are worthy to be called BABAYLAN, not because your knowledge is great, but because you are a DAUGHTER who drank from your mother’s breast and was cradled tenderly in the arms of countless women and men and thus learned of gentleness and love.

You are worthy to be called BABAYLAN, not because you have authority, but because you are a SISTER who once played with brothers and sisters and thus learned and struggled for mutuality and equality.

You are worthy to be called BABAYLAN, not because you have studied rituals and doctrine, but because you embraced LIFE and experienced living, giving, receiving, creating,birthing and nurturing.

You are worthy to be called BABAYLAN, not because you are admired by all, but because you are a WOMAN who can stand on your own, and yet, are truly a part of your community.

A woman becomes a BABAYLAN through life experiences which enable her to discern the needs and aspirations of her people.

A woman becomes a BABAYLAN for her ability to embody and connect the visions of her people to the revelations of God.

Today, you will receive many gifts but the greatest of them all is – YOURSELF.

And because you know this is your heart, you are worthy to be called BABAYLAN.

Celebrations are not limited to liturgies on our relationship with God, the church and our co-pilgrims. Celebrations must encircle our bodies, our creativity, our visions, and our hopes as women.

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