All This Talk
About the GODDESS ?
“The Goddess since her historical
dethronement has remained alive and well. And continues to exert power
from deep in the hidden recesses of the human psyche. Granted she has
been sentenced to remain in a kind of internal exile, under house
arrest, but her power is obvious from the efforts spent to keep her
So,who is she, or what is she, and why does
she keep seeking our attention? Might it be that it is we –
subconsciously and unknowingly – are seeking her? But why? Those
interested in her seem to be a strange mixture of people: witches,
neo-pagans, extreme feminists, new-agers, and a handful of scholars
probably with nothing better to do. So, how do we make sense of her
Research offers at least six possible responses
to the above questions:
Goddess is an archetypal expression of the divine universal life-force
that impregnates the cosmic creation from the beginning of time (Cf. Proverbs 8:22ff).
order that holds things together in a comprehensive embrace can be
presented in mathematical equations. But it can be and consistently has
been presented in mythic form. From earliest times, this vast embrace
bonding all things together in the magnificence of the entire created
order has been understood in the maternal metaphor of the Great Mother.
It was the fecundity and the nurturing quality of the universe that so
impressed the earliest humans. This principle of fecundity and this
nurturing quality we can now identify with that grand curvature of the
universe, for this indeed is the creative and nurturing context of all
Brian Swimme & Thomas Berry (1992), The Universe Story, (pp.219-220).
2. The Goddess symbolises the groundedness of all
creatures in the body of the Earth, inviting us to come home to the
clay from which we are beautifully formed.
“The Goddess is the
power of intelligent embodied love that is the ground of all being. The
earth is the body of the Goddess. All beings are interdependent in the
web of life. Nature is intelligent, alive and aware. As part of nature,
human beings are relational, embodied and interdependent.” Carol Christ
(1997), Rebirth of the Goddess,
3. The Goddess as archetype
of the Divine Mother carries a strong appeal at a time when millions
feel insecure and largely unprotected by the prevailing political and
It seems to me, that in our time, this image of
the Goddess, bringing to birth the resurrected sun – or Son – out of
the womb of darkness, out of the burial cave of the earth, carries a
numinous power. For there can be no doubt that if civilised humankind is
to survive the dangers of this century of transition, when all the
familiar landmarks are disappearing and the collective structures that
used to protect us are crumbling, we must turn to the Goddess, to the
long-despised values of the feminine, to the feeling heart and the
contemplative mind. Perhaps, then, our culture may see the rising of a
new day.” Helen M.Luke (1987), Woman:
Earth & Spirit, p.28.
Goddess is an internal psychic structure through which humans (especially women) can
reclaim the subverted values of the feminine.
“The image of the
Goddess inspires women to see ourselves as divine, our bodies as sacred,
the changing phases of our lives as holy, our aggression as healthy,
our anger as purifying, and our power to nurture and create , but also
to limit and destroy when necessary, as the very force that sustains all
life.” Starhawk, quoted in Charlene Spretnak (1982),
The Politics of Women’s Spirituality, p.51
5. The Goddess, representing the birthing power of
the Divine, becomes embodied in historical personalities throughout
human history. These include several ancient Goddesses (real or imagined) as well as Kali and Durga in
Hinduism, Tara and Kwan Yin in Buddhism, the West African Oya and Oshun,
and Mary in Christianity, especially in the embodiment of the Black
Further Information in : Charlene Spretnak (2003), Missing Mary; Elizabeth Johnson (2004), Truly our Sister.
6. As a
historical person worshipped as the primary manifestation of the divine
throughout the Palaelothic era (35,000-10,000 BCE).
The primary evidence is that of Ice Age Art and the archaeological
research of Marija Gimbutas and several others.
controversial claim with a deep appeal for several female scholars and
for others committed to Goddess faith. For an excellent resume of the
ongoing debate, seen Feminist Theology Vol.13/2 (Jan.2005). Imaging the Goddess as a person – in
the conventional Aristotelian sense – can easily become a form of
patriarchal control – see the excellent critique provided by Rosemary
Radford Ruether (2005), Goddesses and the
Vinci Code and the Great Goddess
A best seller and
gripping read, yet heavily and justifiably criticised for several
factual errors, this book has proved to be an alluring read precisely
because it is about the Great Goddess. This is the subconscious grip
that has hooked several readers.
Quite rightly, the author Dan
Brown, highlights the petrified fear with which the Catholic Church (and
indeed all religions) has regarded the Goddess, begetting a powerful
antithetical force – symbolised in the contemporary movement, Opus Dei –
to undermine the empowerment of the Goddess whenever and wherever
Rightly, Brown highlights that the oppressive strategy
has not worked (and never will). The Goddess continues to flourish, but
not in his distorted patriarchal reconstruction of early Christian
history. There is no evidence whatever that the Goddess descends through
a royal line of any type, and her primary embodiment in the Christian
story is not Mary Magdalene but Mary the mother of Jesus.
major thesis on which The Da Vince Code is based – namely the
existence and flourishing of the Great Goddess – is the lure and
fascination that has gripped several readers. Sadly, the development of
the plot grossly distorts what the Goddess is about and consequently,
has little to contribute to what is likely to become one of the greatest
spiritual and theological challenges of the 21st. century.
Churches will continue to ridicule, condemn and dismiss the fascination
with the Goddess. Patriarchal religion seems to have an in-built
antipathy for anything that connects us too intimately with the body
whether it be that of the earth or the human. And the religions tend to
become paranoid when the empowerment of the female and the promotion of
female values gains ascendancy.
The archetypal Goddess is an
explosive symbol for our time. It is not just about female empowerment,
because in fact most women on Planet Earth today feel grossly
disempowered. And the main reason for this is the subjugation of the
earth itself at the hands of the powerful corporate and consumerist
forces of our time.
The rebirth of the Goddess is a birthing cry
of anguish and desperate hope from an embattled earth body, broken and
brutalised by parasitical humans. It is a wake-up call from the great
nourishing Mother, and it carries a disturbing sense of urgency - see the scholarly, challenging work of Paul Reid-Bowen (2007), Goddess as Nature. Either
we cop-on to what we are doing to the womb of life or we may have no
womb from which to draw nurturance. It may well be one of the most
apocalyptic moments we have had to face in the history of Homo Sapiens.
And if we stand any hope of surviving, I suggest we had better listen
carefully to what the Goddess is asking of us at this precarious time.