Tag Archives: Divine Feminine

Watching the Future

Literata linked to this great video the other day, explaining that:

Kellianna performed on Friday night, and when she took requests, a young girl asked for “I Walk with the Goddess.” Kellianna said, “I’ll sing that if you, you, you, you, and you get up here and sing it with me!”

. . .

I didn’t know any of those girls, but I was so moved that it’s hard to express. I nearly cried with joy at the knowledge that they are being brought up with a vision of the divine that explicitly includes them, their bodies, their selves.

I came to Wicca and Goddess religion many years ago when I first read The Politics of Women’s Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement, edited by Charlene Spretnak. In an essay entitled “Why Women Need the Goddess,” Carol P. Christ wrote:

Religious symbol systems focused around exclusively male image of divinity create the impression that female power can never be fully legitimate or wholly beneficent. This message need never be explicitly stated (as, for example, it is in the story of Eve) for its effects to be felt. A woman completely ignorant of the myths of female evil in biblical religion nonetheless acknowledges the anomaly of female power when she prays exclusively to a male God. She may see herself as like God and affirming God’s transcendence of sexual identity. But she can never have the experience that is freely available to every man and boy in her culture, of having her full sexual identity affirmed as being in the image and likeness of God. In Geertz’ terms, her “mood” is one of trust in male power as salvific and distrust of female power in herself and other women as inferior or dangerous. Such a powerful, pervasive, and longlasting “mood” cannot fail to become a “motivation” that translates into social and political reality.

In Beyond God the Father, feminist theologian Mary Daly detailed the psychological and political ramifications of father religion for women. “If God in ‘his’ heaven is a father ruling his people,” she wrote, “then it is the ‘nature’ of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated. . . . The images and values of a given society have been projected into the realm of dogmas and ‘Articles of Faith,’ and these, in turn, justify the social structures which have given rise to them and which sustain their plausibility.”

Looking at the faces of those girls in the video, watching their body language, I can see, incarnate, the truth that rocked me so many years ago. What a gift to live to see this difference.

Of Course

The anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday looked at data from over one hundred cultures as to the prevalence of rape, and divided them into high- or low-rape cultures. She found that high-rape cultures are highly militarized and sex segregated. There is a lot of difference in status between men and women. The care of children is devalued and delegated to subordinate females. She also found that the creation myths of high-rape cultures recognize only a male deity, rather than a female deity or a couple. When you think about it, that is rather bizarre. It would be an understandable mistake to think women make babies all by themselves, but it’s preposterous to think men do that alone. So you’ve got to have a fairly elaborate and counterintuitive mythmaking machine in order to fabricate a creation myth that recognizes only a male deity. There was another interesting finding, which is that high-rape cultures had recent experiences — meaning in the last few hundred years — of famine or migration. That is to say, they had not reached a stable adaptation to their ecological niche.

Sadly enough, when these risk factors are tallied, it’s clear this pretty much describes our culture.

~Judith Herman interviewed by Derrick Jensen in Truths Among Us: Conversations on Building a New Culture

Picture found here.

Archetypes: Wherever You Go, There You Are

Some time ago I bought G/Son a copy of Merlin and the Making of the King by Margaret Hodges. He spent this weekend with me and asked to have “Merlin”* for a bedtime story.

It’s based on Mallory, but written for young children, and it’s illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. One of the things that Nonna loves best about it is that each chapter has illustrated medieval borders that move, as Arthur’s life does, through the seasons, starting out with Spring flowers, seguing into strawberries, and ending with stags and holly trees. (I find it fascinating that the middle part: when Arthur ruled happily and the Knights of the Round Table did justice (the part that would have been illustrated by, oh, maybe, ripe apples, or harvest-ready wheat fields, or ready-to-pick grapes and figs) is never interesting enough to tell or illustrate. Me, I’d like to hear more about that part.)

The Arthurian legend isn’t like most of the stories that we tell children. In fact, it’s not like most of the stories that I read to G/Son or watch with him on Netflix; it doesn’t conclude neatly and happily with the hero winning in the end. Indeed, by the end of the story, it’s not really clear who the “good guy” is. Which is (one reason) why it’s so rich and has resonated for so many hundreds of years.

G/Son was listening intently while Nonna read the part about Merlin taking Arthur to a lake where Arthur got his sword and his scabbard. The scabbard was magical and, as long as Arthur possessed it, he would never bleed to death of his wounds. (The story doesn’t say, and G/Son has no idea, but, of course, this part of the story is about Arthur having a feminine side, as it is women who bleed but do not die. And, well, scabbard.) Remembering ahead from the last time that we read the book, G/Son said, “Nonna, know what? That was a mistake. That lake lady should not have given Arthur the scabbard right away.”

Nonna: “Why was it a mistake to give him both at once? If you have a sword, you need a scabbard.”

G/Son: “But remember, Nonna. His wife is going to trick him into giving her the scabbard and she’s going to throw it into the outer darkness where it will never be seen again. And that’s what lets Mordred kill Arthur with his sword. The lake lady should have waited until Arthur’s wife was gone and then given him the scabbard.”

Which is all really interesting to me, because the book is clear to distinguish between Arthur’s wife, Guinevere, and his step-sister, Morgan le Fay. They’re depicted quite differently — Guinevere blonde (Quelle suprise!), innocent, and playing the lute, while Morgan is raven-tressed, scowling evil, and shown stealing the scabbard. And, written for children, the book never even hints at any other relationship between Arthur and Morgan, who is described as Arthur’s “evil step-sister” and “Morgan le Fay, a witch.”

So I said, “Oh, it’s not Guinevere who takes the scabbard; it’s Morgan, Arthur’s stepsister.”

And with the certainty that can only be mustered by five-year-olds, G/Son said to me, “No, Nonna. You read it to me before, and I remember it the right way. It was Arthur’s wife. First, she tricks Arthur into giving her his sword and scabbard and then she gets Accalon to fight Arthur. But Vivien and Merlin save him. Then, Arthur’s wife waits until he’s asleep, steals the scabbard, and throws it into the outer darkness and no one can find it.”

Which is all exactly as it’s told in the book, except that it’s Morgan, described as Arthur’s evil step-sister, who does all that.

So Nonna (who has learned never to argue with a sure-of-himself five-year-old, (and who also wanted G/Son to get to sleep)) said “OK, let’s keep reading and see what happens.”

And when we got to the part where the book says that Arthur was betrayed by Morgan, G/Son said, “That’s what the book says; but it’s not how I remember it. Really, it was Arthur’s wife who betrayed him.” (Which if you believe, as I do, that it was the Christian Guinevere who never joined Arthur in the true marriage of the land that was needed, and that it was Pagan Morgan who was his “true” wife, who had to turn on him when he turned on feminine power, all makes pretty good sense. But I’m not having that discussion with G/Son for, oh, another ten or twelve years.)

Go ahead and tell me that archetypes don’t exist.

But my grandson knows this story, the one that’s been fascinating his people for generations and generations — the one that tells how our Fisher-King-of-a-world got its wound and what’s needed to cure it — so well that he sees through the omissions that storytellers make to “protect” the children. Sometime between now and adulthood, our culture will mostly make him forget what he knows.

But I’m betting that the Witch’s Grandson will retain the viable seed of memory within him. I’m staking all that I’ve got on it. I have just this one, precious arrow to shoot into the future. I’m fletching it with all the skill I have.

And, in the meantime, we went to the farmers’ market for tomatoes, squash, sweet soap, a necklace and earrings for G/Son’s mommy, a baguette of local-made bread, and a ballon toy. We went to the grocery store for chocolate milk, burger makings, and popcorn. We picked choclate mint from Nonna’s pots. We ate apples and cheddar cheese. We figured out how to draw comic books online and print them on Nonna’s printer. We left some milk and honey for the fairies and we gave up, because of the rain, on trying to see the shooting stars. We played a Calvin-ball game of chase in Nonna’s basement (the rules regularly change so that Nonna cannot win). G/Son beat me twice, decisively, at Hi Ho Cherry Oh! We made sugar cookies and we watched Ponyo.

And, somewhere, in the middle of it all, we told the true story about King Arthur.

May it be so for you.

Picture found here.

*When we read the part about Merlin living in a cave facing the Western Ocean, G/Son said, “Nonna, Merlin is Gandalf.” I said, “They’re a lot alike.” And G/Son said, “Merlin is Gandalf, who is Dumbledore.” I said, “What is similar about them?” And G/Son said, “Oh, they’re old, and they know a lot, and they help young people. Nonna, keep reading.” And so, I did.