Honouring the Goddess
Honouring the Goddess
By Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell
The title of the book "When God was a Woman" is a good way to begin this article. According to the author, Merlin Stone, God was perceived as having feminine qualities, thousands of years ago. As long as 25,000 years ago, Old Europe was then a matriarchal, peaceful, art loving, earth-bound culture that worshipped the Great Goddess or the Sacred Feminine which was at one with the rhythm of nature and fertility. She was worshipped as the feminine life force, creator and destroyer of life and was regarded as immortal and omnipotent. At that time there were no male gods yet.
The Goddess Displaced
The Goddess began to be displaced around 10,000 years ago with the advent of the agricultural revolution. Diarmuid Murchu, a Catholic priest states that "the Goddess was gradually replaced by a male god who ruled by power, dominance and control. It was at this time that the triad of the "sky god/formal priesthood/earth chief" and organized warfare first appeared." The dethroning of the Great Goddess was instigated by Indo-Europe invaders and finished off by the Judaic, Christian and Muslim religions that arose later. The one Great Goddess was splintered into many lesser goddesses each bestowed with specific qualities such as the goddesses of Greek or Roman mythology. However, even at the time of Jesus, the worship of the Goddess was still part of peoples' spirituality. Three goddesses were predominant then: Sophia, Isis and Demeter. During this time there were hundreds of temples to Isis in what is now Palestine, however, all were destroyed in the first century A.D. by Philo Judaeus, a Hellenistic misogynist.
Every civilization in this world has developed its own array of goddesses. Even though the concept of the Goddess did go underground in some cultures, she still lives on and is reemerging and as part of the new 21st Century Spirituality. And whether it is Hinduism, Tibetan, Chinese, Native American, Celtic, Druid or Roman, the goddesses from these different cultures have remarkable similarities to one another. Let's explore some of the better-known goddesses, a Jungian perspective of them and their archetypal nature.
Goddesses as Archetypes
Archetypes can be personified by these cultural god and goddesses that we have come to know whether it be through mythology or religious tradition. According to Jung, archetypes are inherent patterns or predispositions within our psyche that become activated when called forth by a relationship or event. Whether we are female or male, these archetypes may be experienced under the guise of traits by various gods and goddesses. They may become activated depending on where we are at in our life cycle, hormonal balance, relationships, planned or unplanned life events, people and points of transitions and transformation.
Just as there is a male Christian and Vedic Trinity, there is also the concept of the triple Goddess: virgin, mother and crone symbolized by the waxing, full and waning moon. This concept is very useful because it represents all facets of the female life cycle - the freedom and independence of youth, the nurturance of motherhood and the wisdom, autonomy and transformational quality of the empty nest. Another important aspect of this trinity is that the goddess is a sexual, mother and wise woman. Sexuality and motherhood have been separated by the church as with the Virgin Mary.
In "Goddesses in Every Woman," Jean Shinoda Bolen looks at the trinity in these categories: virgin goddesses representing the self-sufficient qualities of woman; vulnerable goddesses representing the traditional roles of wife, mother and daughter; and the alchemical goddesses which motivate women to seek intensity in relationships rather than permanence and to honour their sensuality, sexuality, creativity and autonomy.
An Array of Goddesses will now be explored from various cultures and spiritual traditions:
Athena is the Greek Goddess of war, wisdom and the arts. She represents courage, friendship and often guides warriors to gentleness. She is the patron of all crafts and elegant arts. An affirmation for a Athena is "There are no limits to what I can do with my creativity and wisdom."
Diana or Artemis is the virgin goddess of the hunt and moon. Her realm is the wilderness presiding over animals and hunters. Despite her fierceness and independence she is the protector of childbirth and relieves the suffering of women during childbirth. Her affirmation would be "I find meaning in solitude and empowerment in independence."
Hathor is the Egyptian mother goddess of love, fertility, music and dance. She is the goddess of sensual pleasure as well as the protectress of all women. She is also creator, destroyer and sustainer of all of life. Hathor's affirmation would be "I honour my sensuality and womanhood for they represent the transformational power of my inner creativity."
Isis is the Egyptian alchemical goddess representing total femininity, life and magic. She represents a growing awareness of your innate magic within and the power of alchemy to renew your life beyond perceived limitations. Her affirmation is "My inner magic allows me to transform and create my life beyond all limits."
Kuan Yin is the Chinese mother goddess of infinite mercy and compassion. Her name means she who listens to the suffering of the world. She provides earthly blessings to children, for health and long life. Kuan Yin vowed she would never leave earth until the last human was free from suffering. She embodies being of service. "I treat myself and others with unlimited compassion, mercy and love," is her affirmation.
Lakshmi is the Hindu mother goddess of good fortune, prosperity and beauty. She represents the abundance, generosity and opulence of the universe. In India, she is worshipped at the beginning of the business year to bring prosperity. Her affirmation is "I welcome abundance, prosperity and good fortune into my life."
Tara is the mother goddess of Tibetan Buddhism and represents wisdom and compassion. Through wisdom she helps those in meditation, prayer and compassion to enlightenment and spiritual freedom. She moves us from fear to harmony and happiness. She also represents new starts and new beginnings. Her motto is "Through wisdom and compassion, I am spiritually free."
We can invoke the powers and attributes of any goddess through meditation, affirmation, ritual, dance, song, chant and art.
While the goddesses you just explored have been around for thousands of years an interesting, contemporary movement of honouring the Divine Feminine has recently emerged within Catholicism. The Marian Movement honours the qualities of the Virgin Mary, acknowledges her as a facet of the holy trinity and is supported by Pope Jean Paul 11. Part of this movement, is to include her in the holy trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit so that it becomes the Holy Quadrinity recognizing the Mother. Mary's role by the church is seen as the keeper of humankind acting as an interceder between heaven and humans.
Interestingly, all apparitions since the 19 th Century have been of the Mother Mary - Lourdes, Fatima and Guadeloupe reflecting the relevance of the Sacred Feminine. Whether you are male or female let's recognize the importance of the reemerging Goddess as part of global transformation to bring about peace, compassion and love.