Finding the Goddess

The God I grew up with was male. Some people assert God has no gender — but they still talk about “Him;” and I was taught to use the terms “Father” and “Lord” to address God. When I was 35 I realized how this language authorized my negative self-image.

I have trouble respecting myself, taking proper care of myself, expressing myself, and being effective in the world. I even have trouble owning who I am and how I think and feel about things, especially when there’s someone else around. As long as I can remember I have heard it said of me that I “take criticism poorly.” Well no wonder: My sense of myself as a worthwhile person — even a person at all — is so shaky that someone frowning at me can topple it right over. In arguments with my husband, I lose myself so badly I can’t even think.

I realized I needed an abiding sense of the divinity in me. I liked having a divinity to talk to and interact with. But if I was going to use an image of an external divinity, I needed one I could identify with. Powerful and glorious as the Fathergod image was, I couldn’t identify with Him — in fact, confronted with Him, I felt worthless.

I needed the Goddess — to teach me the sacredness of my own experience, to show me my own power, to celebrate with me embodiment and earthiness, to dance and sing and play with me, to dream.To re-value the life-giving magic a rationalistic, male-oriented, culture had repressed.

I read Womanspirit Rising[1] and The Spiral Dance[2]. I steeped myself in a new mythology, a new worldview, a new reality. I studied new languages of behavior, of creativity:I learned to work magic — that discipline of changing the world by changing the contents of my mind.I learned how fundamental is play to our connection to the greater life.

Personal Journal
July 1, 1980

I am leaving the house of my father,
where I have been a prisoner unaware.

I’m going to meet Thee, Mother,
It’s the only thing left to do.
I suspected it when I realized
I’d been right all along:
I am a princess,
Stolen at birth from Thy arms.

But I still loved my adopted nation,
I still waited for my prince to come.

Now I put them all behind me,
I start on the new path, the strange path,
the path through the woods to Thy door.

Be Thy awfullest,
I will praise Thee.
Hide in the starlight,
I will proclaim Thee.
Shake me and try me,
I will love Thee.

For Thou art Mother:
Genetrix, nurturer, shaper, guide.
Thou art Life force flowing from the Earth,
Thou art Beauty shining from Heaven,
Thou art Delight dancing our lives.

Holy Mother, Queen of the Sky,
Lay Thy hand on all my deeds,
Hold me in Thy heart.

[1] ed. Christ and Plaskow (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1979). (“Borrowing” a book at the Intenet Archive requires registering, which is free.)
[2] Starhawk, (San Francisco, CA: HarperOne, 1999). (“Borrowing” a book at the Intenet Archive requires registering, which is free.)

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