To ODE Magazine: Now, we're getting somewhere....
Yes, dear readers, it’s that time of the month again. I got my issue of ODE, and while it’s far from perfect, there are definite signs of improvement, as I’ll detail below. If I seem a little obsessed with ODE, I think it’s because I perceive its participants as people who “get it,” but maybe just don’t know what to call it. I could be wrong, of course - these are forward thinking people who may have encountered Goddess spirituality and found it not for them. The more likely circumstance, though, is that they’ve never seriously looked at the Goddess, and how different Her path is than the more common ones.
Groups that are progressive and enlightened tend to gravitate toward Eastern paths because that seems to be an alternative to more traditional Judeo-Christian systems. I call people like that “Buddhist by default.” I mean that in the most positive and respectful way possible. Most of them will tell you that they’ve sort of created their own form of spirituality, and they just use the Buddhist symbolism because that is the language they’ve learned to describe spiritual practices. It’s different than the norm, but not so far out there that most people will think you’re weird or flakey. It seems a safe compromise.
Some people, naturally, are meant to be Buddhists and would be no matter what other system they encountered. I’m not talking about them - may they find peace in their own way. I’m talking about the people who settle on Buddhism because it seems the only real alternative, but don’t find it to be an exact fit. Those people, in many cases, are Goddess people or some form of Pagan, but they’ve never found the language to describe their own intuitive spirituality. If they’ve encountered Wicce or any other form of Pagan worship, they probably have had a negative experience. As with every religion, we have our share of kooks and flakes, and they tend to draw the most attention. I’ve met plenty that would turn me off for good if I didn’t know they aren’t the whole story.
More often, though, even more accepting people will dismiss anything that involves Witches or Goddesses because that’s what they’ve been trained to do. The default position in Western culture is patriarchal, and even Buddhism fits that pattern - the denial of physical pleasure in search of a spiritual clarity, asceticism, the idea that we have to DO something to be “good” or “balanced” or whatever. Duality, guilt hierarchy. Fear of women runs deep in the West and even the most enlightened men and women will have a knee-jerk reaction that says deity can’t be female. If there’s a way to get them past that reaction to a calm place, and they discover what the ways of the Goddess really are, they are usually surprised to find that the spirituality they thought they had invented for themselves actually has a name and a face - or 10,000 of each.
The Goddess is a bountiful Universe, and She loves Her children unconditionally. She has the power to create, to sustain and to destroy. She is a living entity, and we are integral and connected parts of Her body. We are never alone. Everything is connected. We don’t need an intermediary between us because there’s no “between” there. What the ancients called magick we now call Quantum Mechanics. Quantum Entanglement over time and space, and the ability to interact with matter by will is magick. Einstein found it spooky. We find it logical, but not in the linear way so loved by the masculist mind. All times and states coexist, and everything ultimately is an arrangement of atoms vibrating in a field of energy. The energy and the atoms are Goddess, and so are we. Our consciousness is part of one larger conscious mind that differentiated itself for a while and will ultimately return to the source.
I believe it is absolutely essential for people to begin to see everything as biological systems. An economy is a form of energy just like a tide, and ebbs and flows in the same way. Our culture expects linear continual growth in our economy, but biologically that only occurs in cancer. To be healthy, we have to look beyond a bottom line. We need sustainability, meaning, and connection in our lives or we’re just rats running on a wheel, going nowhere, creating nothing. So let’s look at the issue:
To the Editors of ODE-
Last month I wrote to you in hope and frustration because I felt that so many of your articles expressed a theme of “knowing” that something was happening but the authors were grasping for language to describe it. I suggested that the word they were reaching for was “Goddess.” I have no desire to convert anyone who is not meant for Her path. I do want people to know that a language exists that explains their observations and intuitions, and to make that language available for those who would use it. Having read this month’s issue (June 2007) I must say that I think we’re making progress. I saw many signs of hope in your pages.
The word “goddess” appears several times in Tijn Touber’s “Curse of the Alphabet” (pg 18) which is based on Leonard Shlain’s book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image. That’s pretty much standard reading in contemporary Goddess circles, whether we agree with the premise or not. The tag line for the article, “How YouTube will make the world more feminine and peaceful” might be a little glib, but it makes a point - we will have to use more than the printed word to create new images of a peaceful society, because most of us have been raised with the idea that peace is not possible for humans. Let’s hope the aspiring film makers on YouTube find ways to undo the indoctrination of 6000 years spent worshipping violence. We aren’t trying to create a society unlike any that came before. We’re just trying to get back to the harmony we once lived in. Peace is our natural state.
Still no Goddess with a capital ‘G’ and he does conclude the article with a quotation about “a balanced society, one with room for both halves of the brain-- and for men and women,” but I’ll take that. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Some day, I hope that people will be able to mention a Goddess without a god, not because gods don’t count, but because Goddess is all-inclusive. There is one gender with many variations and the one gender is female. We all begin that way. 54% of us stay that way, and about 43% become male, with the other less frequent variations falling somewhere along the single continuum. One gender and many genders. All states co-exist. Think Schroedinger’s Cat. No opposition. No conflict. There is no “there” there.
Yes, it is convenient to divide the world into neat little dichotomies and binaries, but that has created isolation, opposition, stagnation, conflict. Nature is not neat or “50-50.” Even the Eastern philosophies seek “oneness” not “two-ness.” What would the world be like if everyone could hold the ideas of one and of many in their minds at once without conflict? That’s abstract thinking, and it’s the one thing that can serve as an antidote to the trap of black/white, good/evil thinking that holds the world in a constant state of struggle.
Back to the issue... “Our Hearts are Full of Memory” (pg 20) talks about the memory of the body. There are wonderful examples of transplant patients taking on the characteristics of their donors, which shows that there’s more to “us” than our brains, and that our bodies do count. I love that. “Nature’s Violence is Not Always Senseless“ gives Gaia credit for knowing what She needs to heal herself, however inconvenient that might be to one species with an overwhelming sense of entitlement and a serious disconnection from Nature. ”What Makes a Miracle?“ introduces us to Brazil’s visionary, future-saint, or in my terminology ‘Goddess’, Nha Chica. This is a public statement by writer Paul Coelho, who tells of his personal interaction with Her, because in a really wonderful way, She asked him to.
”Three Cheers for Grazy Ideas“ (or ”Crazy“?) made me laugh because the line ”This world really does need more of these wonderful heretics“ seems so dead on when I’m trying to get people to see things in a different way, at least for a minute or two. ”Love Thy Neighbor for He is Me“ is nice though I would phrase it thus: ”I am He and He is Me and we are Goddess.“ Anything I do to another I have ultimately done to myself. On page 35 we have a wonderful picture of little African boys sitting with their feet in a circle with a caption ”Circle of Life.“ I know it’s from the Lion King, but we all know what the ”circle of life“ really is, right?
Then- BE STILL my heart! -we have an except from Paul Coelho’s ”The witch [sic] of Portobello!“ (pg. 36) and the story is about a real sort of Witch (capital W) which makes me really happy, even though it’s fiction. ”The Forgotten Thinker You Need to Know“ (pg. 41) made me sad because Ivan Illich was most definitely possessed of Goddess consciousness, though I’m sure he never knew that.
The photos of mostly indigenous groups in ”You’ve got a Friend“ cheered me right up again. Batches of Goddess’ own people (whether they remember than or not) assembled for a project called ”Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship” Get it? M.I.L.K.! I couldn’t make this up if I tried!
One small exception is that in “Remembering the Battle of Seattle” (pg. 58) as Paul Hawken recalls the first WTO protest which turned to mayhem because of fascists in police gear, he says “No charismatic leader led the marchers. No famous religious figure blessed the protesters.” Sorry to be a stickler, but I’m quite sure Starhawk, one of the most famous Goddess Priestesses in the world, along with many of her Reclaiming activists , was there. She’s on the front lines of most anti-globalization protests and took a group down to the Gulf Coast to help during Hurricane Katrina. It’s not that Goddess people aren’t around - it’s that the media usually ignores us, or occasionally makes fun of us.
“Selfishness is in the Public Interest” might have been a misstep, though. Contrary to what the very contrary Richard Dawkins says, people are not naturally selfish. We have been successful as a species because our first natural instinct is to help each other, and we are willing to make sacrifices for the good of our social group. It didn’t surprise me that the article spoke to Kevin Kelly of WIRED magazine - they are thoroughly entrenched in the patriarchal (and unworkable) idea of universe-as-computer. I get good information from that magazine, but very little inspiration and it’s one of the few I read as thoroughly as ODE.
“Healthy food is the recipe for peace” states the obvious but it needs to be stated. Good food creates well-adjusted people. People who eat poorly are more violent or hyperactive. So why do we feed kids and prisoners crap when it costs less to feed them the good stuff? You’d almost think someone wants to lock up all the poor people and drug our kids...
Anyway, sorry to send another long letter, but I wanted to point out that the Goddess was all over this issue and I hope that’s a trend that continues and grows. Keep up the good work!