The Goddess &
More and more, we are beginning to remember that the Great Goddess, the Mother of god, was the image of Unity. The symbols of life-giving, of nourishment, of receiving the dead back into her womb for rebirth covered the walls of our pre-historic caves, sang from ancient poetry and art, live still in old shape-shifted rituals, stolen by patriarchal religions. She reigned for most of human history, pre-history, as literate culture evolved by trampling her presence into ever-fainter whispers.
The myth of the Goddess was dismembered, buried by patriarchy in plain sight beneath temples and churches. The myth of violent male sky gods were superimposed over our original reality of unity and peace. But myth is a map of the psyche of a people; myth tells our consciousness, evolving as story. There is an archeology of the psyche. We can dig down to recover what’s been destroyed. Duality and domination have become the one story of this world for the past 5,000 years. Separation, competition, terror are the tenets we live by. That original unity has been gone from this world for just a few millennia, lost to patriarchal consciousness, so that we believe this fear is the only alternative. Our transition as a species, from peaceful co-existence and Be-longing to war and rivalry is a chronicle of terror. But it wasn’t always this way.
Once, there was the immortal Goddess, and she was our mother, and we weren’t afraid of death. There was continuous renewal—transformation and rebirth were everywhere. Under the patriarchal sky-gods, we forgot the return, the lunar journey from dark to full and back again was lost with sun-gods. Death became final, and life became tragic. Fear the only option. The experience of Her totality became an experience of His opposition. Religion shifted our consciousness, and our goddess-forsaken consciousness shifted religion until fortresses and security states and 5,000 years of endless war dropped the full weight of PTSD upon our species, and enemies rose up from every nightmare to greet us each new day.
Knowing what humans were helps guide us to develop into who we can become. Our assumptions about human nature are critical to our beliefs, behaviors, and desires. We long for ritual and metaphor—symbols give us meaning and the motivation to move in different, ancient rhythms, trusting the life force. Reenactments of ecstatic unity, expressing ritually the reunion of humans with animals, plants seasons, and elements, can be experienced through ritual, trance, activism, and awakening the magic we once knew in our daily pre-patriarchal lives.
Rituals are compressed stories. The cycles of the moon and the holy days are the thread upon which all our beads were strung— the moon was one profound symbol of the Goddess. The moon was the eternal source of an ancient story— the constant cycling, forever changing in ways that are forever the same. In the Paleolithic, the Neolithic, and the Bronze Ages, images of the moon and the fertility of womyn were the foundation of the old story. The moral vision expressed in the ancient connection to the earth and the Great mother shifted when our individual life became separated from the eternal life, as one part broke away, mind-first, from the whole.
Our consciousness became split, the original signal distorted, the human no longer sacred, the world no longer sacred. The Goddess became relegated to the unconscious psyche, arising in myths, archetypes, symbols, legends, and fairy tales beside every religion and within every culture. These images of the Goddess live on in the roots of the human psyche, buried beneath this late addition of separation and alienation, which seems inevitable to us, as most of us have experienced nothing else for five-thousand years. But invisible dimensions await us—these are approached symbolically, through the spiral labyrinths of myth and ritual. Intricate pathways connect the visible world of the senses to the archetypal realms of the Goddess.
In women’s spirituality, the year is a circle without beginning or end. Our wheel of the year, celebrating the moon and the 8 holy days, are a recreation of the oldest story. We participate with the life force as we follow the seasons through mythic themes that ritualize life, death and rebirth. We celebrate the cross quarter days of the Solstices and Equinoxes—falling between these are the lunar sabbats called Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, and All Hallows. We watch the earth change with the myth of the Goddess’s travels as rites of passage, and we see our lives reflected back as holy. Each holy day has a seasonal theme, as well as a ritual who’s particular purpose is reenacted. As we ritualize our lives and participate with the life of the earth in the stories of the Goddess, we re-member in our bodies the never-ending, ever-changing rhythm of the pattern of life.
Starhawk, Excerpts from The Spiral Dance
Listen to the words of the Great Mother, who of old was called Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Aphrodite, Ceridwen, Diana, Brigid, and many other names—
“Whenever you have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, you shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of Me who is Queen of all the Wise. You shall be free from slavery…sing, feast, dance, make music and love, all in My presence, for Mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and Mine also is joy on earth. For my law is love unto all beings. Mine is the secret knowledge of the spirit eternal and beyond death. I give peace and freedom and reunion with those that have gone before. Nor do I demand aught of sacrifice, for behold, I am the mother of all things and My love is poured out upon the earth.
I who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters, I call upon your soul to arise and come unto me. For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe. From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return. Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, for behold- all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals. Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you. And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning , and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”
The Goddess is the liberator of women, and indeed, of all humans who suffer under patriarchy, (which is to say all humans, save for the ones in charge of money and power.) She is manifest in our deepest drives and emotions, which always and inevitably threaten the systems designed to contain them. She is love and anger, which refuse to fit comfortably into the social order.
The secret of immortality lies in seeing death as an integral part of the cycle of life. Rebirth can be seen in life itself, where every ending brings a new beginning—all events are continuing processes.
The Goddess’s love is unconditional. She does not ask for sacrifices; sacrifice is inherent in life, in the constant change that brings constant losses. If we believe that humans are essentially warlike and aggressive, and god is a judging, punishing, sterile force, then we will be that. But we weren’t always this way. For 5,000 years, the monotheistic male sky gods demanded domination by excluding the life-renewing, holy female figures of our past, and by denying nature herself.
Pleasure is not superficial, but becomes a profound expression of the life force; a connecting power linking us to others, and not merely sensation of satisfying our own isolated needs. Finally, desire is itself seen as a manifestation of the Goddess. We do not seek to conquer or escape from our desires— we seek to fulfill them. Desire is the glue of the universe—it binds the electron to the nucleus, the planet to the sun—and so creates form, creates the world. We are already one with the Goddess— She has been with us from the beginning. So fulfillment becomes, not a matter of self indulgence, but of self- awareness.
Tables of Correspondences—Helpful in ceremony for calling-in the directions.
Rules the mind, all mental, intuitive, and psychic work, knowledge, abstract learning, windswept hills, plains, windy beaches, high mountain peaks, towers, wind, breath.
Colors- blue, white, bright yellow
Signs- Gemini, Libra, Aquarius.
Plants- frankincense, myrrh, pansy, primrose, violet, vervain, yarrow
Animals- birds, especially eagle and hawk
Goddesses- Arianrod, Nut, Urania
Gods- Enlil, Mercury, Shu, Thoth
Rules energy, spirit, heat, flame, blood, sap, life will, healing and destroying, purification, transformation, bonfires, candle flames, solar power, sun, deserts, volcanoes, eruptions, explosions.
Colors-red, orange, white of the sun at noon
Signs- Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Plants- garlic, hibiscus, mustard, nettle, onion, red peppers, red poppies
Tree- almond, in flower
Animals- fire-breathing dragons, lions, horses
Goddesses- Brigit, Hestia, Pele, Vesta
Gods- Hephaestus, Horus, Vulcan
Rules emotions, feelings, love, courage, daring, sorrow, the ocenan, the tides, lakes, pools, streams, rivers, springs, wells, intuition, the unconscious mind, dreams, the womb, generation, fertility.
Colors- blue, blue green, green, grey, indigo
Signs- Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Plants- ferns, lotus, mosses, rushes, seaweeds, water lillies, all water plants
Animals- dragons as serpents, dolphins and porpoises, fish, seals and sea mammals, water dwelling snakes, all water creatures , sea birds.
Goddesses- Aphrodite, Isis, Mari, Tiamat
Rules the body, growth, nature, sustenance, material gain, money, creativity, birth, death, silence, caverns, caves, groves, fields, rocks, standing stones, mountains, crystal, jewels, metal
Colors- black, brown, green, white
Signs- Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Plants- comfrey, ivy, grains (barley, oats, corn, rice, rye, wheat)
Animal- cow or bull, bison, snakes, stag
Goddesses- Demeter, Ceres, Gaea, Nephthys, Persephone, Rhea, Rhiannon
Gods- Afonis, Dionysus, Marduk, Pan, Tammuz
Direction- center, throughout and about
Rules transcendence, transformation, change, everywhere and nowhere, within and without, the void, immanence
Time- beyond time, all time Is one
Season- the turning of the wheel
Colors- clear, white, black
Animal- the Sphinx
Goddesses- Isis, the Secret Name of the Goddess, Shekinah
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