In my blog of May 11 about practicing the presence of the Goddess, I explained how Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection inspired me. Many thanks to everyone who read that blog and commented on it. One comment came via email from a friend, who said, “I kept thinking as I read about that expression ‘walking one’s talk.’” But of course. It would be lovely if anyone outside a nunnery or monastery could be as filled with their god or goddess as Brother Lawrence was. Though we try to be as mindful as we can, we obviously don’t always succeed as well as we’d like. But surely it’s better to have a positive intention than a negative one.
So let’s get practical. Instead of filling our heads with what’s been called monkey-chatter, let’s fill ourselves with the Goddess so that our thoughts of Her can go on autopilot. Instead of obsessing over, say, if the Lakers, Packers, or Cardinals are going to win their next whatever-they-play or who’s gonna win this week on Dancing With the Stars, let’s set our minds on the Goddess so our thoughts go to Her when we don’t have to concentrate on some specific, important task at hand.
Stop reading now. Listen to the Goddess Chant. Turn on your sound and click here:
Right now, give yourself 2 minutes and 23 seconds. The Goddess Chant, written (I’m pretty sure) by Deena Metzger, has been sung by women and men all over the world. The goddesses named in the chant are Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, and Inanna. Isis—the Egyptian mother goddess whose iconography (Mother and Son) was borrowed by the Christian church and, according to The Golden Ass, She of Ten Thousand Names. Astarte—an ancient (Bronze Age) Near Eastern goddess of fertility and war who was turned into a male demon (Astoreth) in the Old Testament. Diana—pre-Roman Italian goddess of the earth, the sky, and the moon. Hecate—one of the earliest Greek goddesses…who also visits Scotland (in Macbeth). Demeter—Greek earth mother who becomes so depressed when her daughter Kore/Persephone is kidnapped by Hades (or the girl goes voluntarily into his realm) that she lets the earth dry up. Kali—the great, terrible, powerful goddess of India. Inanna—the Sumerian goddess who descends into the underworld and comes back up again. Please do some research. Learn more about these goddesses so that when you sing their names, you know what and who you’re celebrating. I used the Goddess Chant in Secret Lives to bring a theaphany into a mainstream metaphysical church when two of the characters turned a psychic fair into a vaudeville.
Instead of muttering to yourself about, say, what the political candidates are doing or trying to figure out how you’re going to make your next mortgage/rent/car/student loan payment, sing to yourself. When you’re doing not much of anything, sing the Goddess Chant silently or aloud. Filling your mind and the air around you with goddess names is lots healthier than having a head filled with monkey-chatter. When you need to think about mundane things, your head will be clearer. I know this from my own experience.
Now stop reading again, turn your sound on again, and listen to another Goddess chant, “We all come from the Goddess” by my friend and the mother of Diana Wicca, Z. Budapest.
(Three minutes in, you can see photos of Z.) Consider the words: “We ALL[emphasis added] come from the Goddess and to Her we shall return” just as every drop of water returns to the oceans that nourish our planet. Not just me, not just Wiccans or Witches, not just pagans returning to the Goddess, but all of us, all of Her children, no matter what their nationality or faith. The Goddess is the grandmother of God. That means we’re all kin. We can all metaphorically sit on her lap for a hug. Sing this chant and memorize it. It’s especially good if you’re feeling depressed.
When the goddess chants are on auto-play in your head, you can adopt a mantra and add it to the mix. Repeat it in your head while you’re washing dishes or vacuuming or pulling weeds or combing the cat. Any time your beta thinking pauses, the mantra in your mind clicks on for awhile. The mantra I use is OM TARE TUTARE TURE SOHA. This is because one of goddesses I’m dedicated to is the Buddhist Tara, but you can find mantras for other goddesses. Or make your own mantra and plant it—and the goddess—in your head.
Singing, chanting, repeating a mantra—these are three ways to practice the presence of the Goddess. Brother Lawrence engaged in spiritual conversations with his god while he was doing the lowliest work in the monastery. That was his practice. It’s not likely that any of us will ever be as holy as Brother Lawrence—after all, he didn’t have to run a complicated modern life like we do—but we can walk in the world being kind to people and singing Goddess names in our minds.
The American Heritage Dictionary and several websites give this etymology of the word “religion”: it comes from the Latin religiō, “bond between man [sic.] and the gods [sic.]” and possibly from re-, “back” and ligāre, “to bind.” (The OED, however, says the etymology of religion is obscure.) If we accept the religiō etymology, then let’s consider that it’s often music that makes the binding closest and most joyful. Maybe that’s why the cantor is so important in the synagogue, why we know our old, familiar hymns and Christmas carols by heart, why even people like me enjoy good gospel music. It’s why our mothers sing to us when we cry and why Sesame Street is so much fun. Let’s use the two Goddess chants to sing ourselves closer to our Great Mother. In Gypsy, Mama Rose Hovick yells, “Sing out, Louise!” Let us sing out to the Goddess.
Please try it. Sing Goddess chants or mantras. Let me know what happens when you do.
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic. Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations. When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.
12 thoughts on “Still Practicing Her Presence By Barbara Ardinger”
Thank you Barbara. I dropped out of church on mothers day… can’t stomach all the masculine father-king-lord language anymore… Practicing Her presence now in the woods. While on “church sabbatical” (what I’m calling it with my kids) I am going to indulge in Goddess reading/imagery/presence to rewire all the patriarchal wiring in my brain from my religious formation. Thanks for your wisdom and encouragement! Emily
Emily, many thanks for your kind words. Yes, fill your head and your life with Mama and rewire your brain. If you want to know more about many, many goddesses take a look at The Book of Goddesses and Heroines by my friend Patricia Monaghan.
This was a great affirmation that I have been doing this for some many years. While doing chores, Her presence fills my mind, while riding down the road on my scooter, I sing out loud Her Glory. I love OM TARE TUTARE TURE SOHA, and sing it in the car with Gabriel Roth. I agree that music makes the binding between man and Goddess the most joyful, sometimes being moved to tears. Thank you. BB
I first learned the Goddess chant many years ago at my Darkmoon circle. We chanted it often, as we did other chants. I chant it to this day.
Once, while in a Santa Cruz bookstore, I heard the chant playing. It was a Robert Gass & On Wings of Song CD. I bought the CD right then and listened to it all the way home. The CD included the song “We All Come From the Goddess.” The women in my circles often combine the chant and the song in round. It is beautiful and transporting.
I did not know that Deena Metzger wrote the Goddess chant. I once attended a Deena Metzger workshop in San Jose. I find bliss in her enlightened teachings. I’ve used several of Deena’s meditations in some of my rituals.
I had forgotten that Z Budapest wrote “We All Come from the Goddess.” It seems that the people with whom I circle do not often speak of the authors of the things we do. I suppose that we just concentrate on the Goddess.
In your blog, Barbara, you write of religion. I do not consider myself as a religious person. I do consider myself a spiritual person. I believe that all things are sacred. Everything I do is an act of spirituality, even everyday, mundane behaviors.
I must admit that I originally, over fifty-nine years ago now, sought out the Goddess because I was searching for a deity image with whom I could resonate and identify. I felt a closeness to all the patriarchal masculine deity language, if only by conditioning. The spiritual balance felt skewed to me, so, at that point, I focused on the Goddess.
Now that I feel spiritually balanced, I include masculine deities as well as feminine deities in my practice. I believe that I must acknowledge both the masculine and the feminine because both are within each of us.
I, also, recognize that each of us have our own spiritual paths to follow. I think every path leads to where we each need to go. I’m a “live and let live,” a “do unto others as I would have them do unto me” kind of person.
I am mindful of my thoughts and my behavior. I notice that my warrior qualities seem to take over in pressing situations. Like plastic placed in hot water, I often seem to resume my old patterns. That’s okay. I know that I am really unconditional love. Just watch it! lol
The Robert Gass tape (well, when I had it, it was a tape) is beautiful. I think it’s on YouTube, too. I’m wondering if I should write a blog from the pagan viewpoint on the difference between religion and spirituality. What do you think?
I would like to read a blog from the pagan viewpoint on the difference between religion and spirituality, Barbara.
I pretty much explain this in an upcoming blog on The Little Prince.
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. http://www.barbaraardinger.com. Do you want to write a book but not embarrass yourself in print? Let me be your editor! Nifty quotation: “A poem [or literary work] is never finished, only abandoned.” –Paul Valery Facebook page for my new novel, Secret Lives: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Secret-Lives/140993335978461
Barbara – awesome! You connected video links to your post! I focused on the Om Tare mantra on Thursday and Friday. Very peaceful and centering.
Thanks, Liz, but while I can take credit for putting links in my Word document, we can all thank Xochitl for actually posting my blog and making the links actually work. I’d still be sitting here trying to make them work. My mind really does go to Om Tare when it’s in neutral. That helps keep me sane…………………….as sane as I am, anyway.
Love the topic *and* your writing style. Many thanks! I have come full circle from being found by Goddess/Gaia in ’95, to bouncing around exploring with open joy some of the Eastern practices, and now back to a fullness of centering even more deeply within Gaia’s embrace. All paths lead to Her. As you point out so beautifully in this and the earlier post, mantra of Goddess fills gaps with Her Essence instead of with other monkey-mind discontinuity.
As a side note, I’m so tickled by your wit that I downloaded the first bit of “Secret Lives” to preview and will be ordering a hard copy soon, as I’m intrigued!
Darla, many thanks for your kind words. Somehow we either come to the Goddess or she does something that gets our attention. And here we all are! I hope you enjoy Secret Lives.