Who is She? The Existence of an Ontological Goddess By Molly Remer
I do feel Her presence directly in my life—call it an energy, call it the sacred feminine, call it the divine, call it source, call it soul, call it spirit, call it the great mystery…I perceive a web of relatedness and love within the world and I choose to put a feminine form to that energy—to name it and know it as Goddess.
To me, Goddess is found in the act of specifically naming that ineffable sense of the sacred that we all, universally, experience or perceive at some point during our lives. Whether it be in gazing at the ocean or in climbing a mountain, in the births of our children or the hatching of a baby chick, almost all humans experience transcendent moments of mystery, meaning, wonder, and awe. We can call these experiences by different names and I feel that the Goddess arises when we have the courage and capacity to name Her as such, rather than stay hazy, generic, or afraid. In my own life, I call these numinous experiences Goddess and through this I know She exists in, of, around, and through the world that I live in. It is in these experiences that I touch Her directly.
A classic, though limited, ontological argument is that God(dess) is because we can conceptualize of that existence. Rather than frame my argument for the existence of Goddess this way, I would say that Goddess is because we feel or experience that She is. Additionally, I do not actually find it necessary for a deity to necessarily meet classic theological criteria of all good and all powerful. In one of my first classes at Ocean Seminary College, I wrote the following, inspired by Carol Christ’s writing: “I have a thealogical view of the world/universe as the body of the Goddess. Everything is interconnected in a great and ever-changing dance of life. Not as ‘all one,’ but as all interconnected and relating to one another, in an ever-present ground of relationship and relatedness…I imagine the divine as omnipresent (rather than omnipotent).” The Divine is located around and through each living thing as well as the great web of incarnation that holds the whole.
As an example of this divinity that permeates each living thing, I offer a newly hatched baby chick. Bright black eyes sparkling with life, fluffy down, perfect little three-toed feet. Minutes before there was an egg, delicately posed beneath a chicken, throbbing with something, ineffable, that unfurled in a steady sequence from two cells to many, until this moment when having used its little beak, stunning in its perfection, to crack out of its shell, now peers out onto the great, grand world. This life force so evident in the transition from egg to chick also beats all of our hearts and grows all of our fingernails. This force grows the trees and makes the flowers bloom. This force is both in and around me all of the time. I am embedded in it. When I tap into that feeling of spirit within, it is making a connection or being in relationship to, that larger Spirit that makes up the world and that we all participate in and belong to, separate but connected.
My felt sense is that the Goddess IS everywhere, all the time. I also recognize that this is a personalization of the more “generic” larger forces of the world that other people may or may not find useful or appropriate in their own lives; for example, some people might call it evolution, I call it Goddess. This force, this connecting “glue” that holds the universe together might be named by others “God” or “the Universe” or “Nature” or “Life Force” or “the Sacred” or “Divinity” or “the Tao”—I feel most satisfied when I personalize it as Goddess. Additionally, I have had a small handful of metaphysical types of experiences that convince me that there is a personal aspect/experience of Goddess as well as a more impersonal, force-of-Nature-and-the-Universe experience of Goddess. I do feel Her presence directly in my life—call it an energy, call it the sacred feminine, call it the divine, call it source, call it soul, call it spirit, call it the great mystery…I perceive a web of relatedness and love within the world and I choose to put a feminine form to that energy—to name it and know it as Goddess.
In Merlin Stone’s essay about the three faces of goddess spirituality in the collection, The Politics of Women’s Spirituality (p. 66), she writes
“So far, and let us hope in the future as well, feminists concerned with Goddess spirituality have seldom offered absolute or pat answers to theological questions. What has been happening is the experiencing, and at times the reporting, of these personal or group experiences: how it feels to regard the ultimate life force in our own image—as females; how it feels to openly embrace and to share our own contemplations and intuitive knowledge about the role of women on this planet; how it feels to gain a sense of direction, a motivating energy, a strength, a courage—somehow intuited as coming from a cosmic female energy force that fuels and refuels us in our struggle against all human oppression and planetary destruction.”
To me, this makes sense—Goddess as life’s “fuel” and as an energy that surrounds and holds us all, but that does not control our behavior and does not have the ability to stop specific events from happening—events are multicausal and there are a multiplicity of forces and natural laws in the world (gravity, for example), that act in and upon the lives of humans without divine cause or intervention.
I have a favorite passage from Susan Griffin about the earth in which she exclaims, “We are stunned by this beauty.” That is exactly how I feel. This relationship to the planet is what used to make me actually feel that a formal conception of deity was unnecessary—isn’t it enough to just marvel at what is, right here in front of us? The majesty and the miracle of the natural world. I am stunned by this beauty. I am stunned by the realization that we are all suspended in space, spinning timelessly through the universe on this beautiful planet, so small in the vastness of all that surrounds us, and yet so big that it is literally our whole world. Sometimes when I have a bad day or feel overwhelmed by the swirl of daily tasks I remember a saying about, “sometimes I go about pitying myself when all the while I am being carried by a great wind across the sky.” If we really stopped to think about this—to sense how we are carried by the great wind, I think the whole world would change, how people relate to each other and to the environment would be transformed. Stop, look, listen, breathe, and feel how we spin. Together.
This is creation, science, fact, come alive. This is theapoetics. The presence of the Goddess in a way that cannot be denied.
Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE, CCCE is a certified birth educator, writer, activist, and ordained priestess who lives with her husband and children in central Missouri. She is a newsletter editor, a breastfeeding counselor, a professor of human services, and doctoral student in women’s spirituality at Ocean Seminary College. She blogs about birth, motherhood, and women’s issues at http://talkbirth.me and about thealogy and theapoetics at http://goddesspriestess.com