The Goddess Gaia is alive
In this time and in this space
She speaks in sunrises
And waves against the shore
She sings with the wind
She dances in moonlight
She holds you close
Your heart beats in time with hers
A great, grand hope and possibility
For this planet…
Over the last two months, I have been listening to a wonderful telesummit about priestesses. I am also a huge fan of the radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine. However, as I listen to both, I sometimes find myself wondering if walking a Goddess path is also viewed as synonymous with, “believe everything, question nothing.” Crystal essences, gemstone healing, soul contracts, past lives, spirit guides, astrology, the many realms and dimensions of the occult, mystical, New Age and metaphysical. Is wholesale suspension of logic required to join hands with the Goddess? Is deft management of the tarot essential to the priestess path? Is excavating my “inner masculine” relevant or appropriate? Must I ascribe to “enlightened” tenets like, “you are not your body,” “I am a spiritual being having a spiritual experience” and “we made an agreement to do this work before we showed up in this body at this time and place” in order to move forward?
I sat at my home altar one afternoon holding an amethyst in one hand and a priestess sculpture in the other feeling entirely too practical and realistic. I looked out my window at the precious trees, the scratching chickens, the drooping flowers, and the dry, dry relentless dust of summer and some answers drifted to my mind:
My thealogy is the earthy, the mundane, the practical, and the miraculously ordinary obvious.
I am of this earth
for this earth
and by this earth.
You are not your body? Yes, I am. Captivated by planetary reality. Enthralled by the magic of gravity, the alchemy of salt and of raindrop, the oracle of leaf shadow on rock.
My body is enough. The breath in my lungs a prayer, the touch of my fingertips on stone a holy moment. The fire of life in my eyes an every day and yet wholly incredible gift.
The power of the pen in my fingers to write,
of my mind to create,
of my heart to pump blood,
and my hand to draw back from the sharpness of flame.
This is LIFE. This is holiness. This is sacred reality. It is not necessary to seek answers from far-off, mystical contracts of the soul. We need to only open our eyes. Inhale. Exhale. Laugh. Hug. This is a wonderful moment. This is my religion. This is living prayer. This is life in the hand of the Goddess.
This wild life is ours
I am within you and around you
I hold and enfold you
Are the colors of green leaves
My potential is in your hands.
In her book She Who Changes, Carol Christ asks a profoundly meaningful question, “Is the source of the theological mistakes of classical theism a rejection of embodied life that begins with rejection of the female body? In other words, are the six theological mistakes embedded in a way of thinking that is inherently anti-female?” (p. 200). She suggests that the answer is yes. The theological mistakes of classical theism are intimately tied up “in denial of the changing body and the changing world, which is rooted in a way of thinking that is inherently anti-female.” Patriarchy itself is built on rejection of the female body (and, to many extents, the physical world).
As I prepared this post, I became concerned that it would appear as if I reject all that is metaphysical or esoteric in favor of “logic and reality” (I find that people can get just as dogmatically obsessive about NOT seeing all that is unseen!), when instead I just mean to acknowledge that there is enough real, earthly magic right in front of me every day that it is enough to boggle my mind.
An overemphasis on philosophical or logical thinking can also contribute to a lack of full engagement with the real world, whereas in thealogy many quickly realize that it simply is a spirituality better lived than analyzed: “Don’t just read about the Goddess, LOVE HER, listen to Her, reflect Her as the Earth and Moon reflect the Sun. Don’t just study Nature, put your hands in the dirt, your feet on the forest trail, turn your face to the wind and breathe Nature in and out of your lungs. Feel the connection. No books required.” (Esra Free, Wicca 404: Advanced Goddess Thealogy)
I find that there is a broad swath of the invisible, unknown, and mysterious running like a current around and through all the realities and visibilities of everyday life—enough that I remain open to metaphysical possibilities and can include the chance of continuity of consciousness after death, the presence, guidance and possibility of unseen elements at work in the physical world (guides, ancestors, spirits, deities). If the earth can turn water and sunlight into wine every day, I will not rule out the possibility of wild, magical, unseen beings either! For me, the Goddess herself is that web of life. She is the weaving itself and flows, dancing lightly, through every fiber of being.
Magic and mystery is right in front of my eyes and in my lungs as well as in my dreams and in the poetry that comes unbidden to my lips when I sit in the woods alone.
Alone? Or, embedded directly within the Goddess-force herself…
The closing of a poem I wrote last April returns to me:
…hope on our lips
a song in our hearts
a prayer in our hands
the hum of blood in our veins
the only rapture we need…
Molly is a priestess, writer, teacher, artist, and activist who lives with her husband and children in central Missouri. She is a breastfeeding counselor, a professor, and doctoral student in women’s spirituality at Ocean Seminary College. Molly and her husband co-create at Brigid’s Grove: http://brigidsgrove.etsy.com and she blogs about theapoetics, ecopsychology, and the Goddess at http://goddesspriestess.com.
Disclaimers: I am currently in the final stages of finishing a book that is actually about runes. And, yes, I have had many personal experiences that could be deemed mystical. And, yes, I am a priestess who sits at my altar holding amethysts and who was “called” to this work in a way I cannot explain using traditional logic. I’m also a Taurus. This post is in not meant to criticize those who are more in touch with the metaphysical than I am or who include New Age concepts in their thealogies, practices, or passions, but to poke into the core of my own thealogy and spiritual experience.
Based on a post originally published at SageWoman: Thealogy of the Ordinary – PaganSquare
12 thoughts on “Thealogy of the Ordinary by Molly”
Molly, we are definitely on the same wavelength. I have also been writing on PaganSquare as have you and like you (I suspect) I have been surprised that many of those who post identify more with magic as derived from the white elite male western alchemical (sometimes called mystery) traditions than with connection to nature and the body as derived from folk or pagan practices worldwide. Sadly, this seems to me to be yet another indication of how far removed our culture is from connection to the web of life, the physical, the body and nature. And I also agree with you that to find the spirit within the web of life is not to deny the mystical sense of connection to and participation in something larger than the ego, a divine power present in the physical.
Many of those “tenets” you list in your first paragraph are New Age nonsense. Like you, it seems to me that we must be grounded for, yes, we are of the earth. The planet is a sentient, conscious being. Earth is Gaia embodied. Even though I don’t like outdoor rituals (I don’t like to get the outdoors on me), I still have great respect for nature and for Mother Earth. Sometimes it seems to me that people are fleas on Her body, and She’s shaking and scratching and washing us pests off. I like your poems.
Right–but, in the last three months I’ve seen ALL of them conflated/associated with/synonymous with goddess paths (plus, a host of other related sorts of ideas) and it got me thinking!
It is old now, but I really enjoyed Monica Sjoo’s New Age and Armageddon, which really explains how/why some New Age concepts are just as damaging to women as ideas from “traditional” monotheistic religions.
Re: the fleas. I also get frustrated with the romanticization of nature (and of animals) that I also see so frequently. Nature can be sharp. She is spiky. She can be ruthless. And, she often has blood on her teeth.
Molly, this was a beautifully written post that I felt into my pulse… And I smiled reading your comment above about how “nature can be sharp … spiky … ruthless.” I smiled because I’m still tip-toeing into my new life living in the Sonoran Desert of outer-southwest-Tucson where half the time I feel overwhelmed with fear, even when I’m in my house. The desert is an especially fierce face of Gaia — at least it is for me having spent nearly all my adult life living snuggled up against woods or forest — and I’m still getting acquainted with Her in this place, space, and landscape.
Thank you, Darla! Best wishes as you adapt to your new environment. I had a small taste of that when I spent time at the ocean last year–the Gaia I knew and was so familiar with from the woods was hard to feel in the salty air and sandy beaches, but she was there too!
Molly thank you for your excellent post! I’ve been struggling with these issues as well and wondering if I must open my mind up to things that seem foolish to me. I too feel Gaia especially when I am in the woods. I like to put out sunflower seeds and sit and watch the birds, squirrels, and mice that come for my little offerings. Observing the creatures and feeling my connection to them and to Mother Earth is a spiritual experience for me.
Interesting comment Linda. The ordinariness of feeding the birds can be a marvelous form of meditation too. You get so caught up in their every hop and nibble, all else except that moment would seem to drop away.
I’m sorry I missed this post a month ago, Molly. It’s so earthy, so poetic, and so evocative of the path I’m on. One small point, and probably not one you would disagree with. My buggaboo is unnecessary dichotomy, dualisms that divide things that don’t need to be divided. You quote Esra Free, who says “Don’t just study Nature, put your hands in the dirt, your feet on the forest trail, turn your face to the wind and breathe Nature in and out of your lungs. Feel the connection. No books required.” Through reading (some books) I understand more about Nature and that connects me to Her in a deeper way. For instance, when I go to a new location to present a workshop, I research what the land beneath the site of the workshop looks like all the way down to the center of the Earth. Then I have some idea of the history of life in that spot.
Completely agree, Nancy! I am a *thinker* at heart and I love reading, writing, and pondering many topics. I wouldn’t be here at FAR if I didn’t need both elements–physical engagement AND mental work, including copious amounts of reading. :) Thanks for commenting.
What a lovely post, Molly, and I am so grateful to be quoted in it! You are absolutely on the right path here. It is through our own bodies that we know Her most intimately. We are closest to Her when our fingers sift the soil, when our bodies are immersed in Her flowing waters, when we lay down in green grass or walk a trail covered in crisp autumn leaves. As you said above: “This is LIFE. This is holiness. This is sacred reality.” YES.
I want to let you know that Wicca 404: Advanced Goddess Thealogy is back in print, in both paperback and ebook. The link in your post is to an out of print used paperback edition on Amazon, which is all there was for a long time. But now it’s available again at https://www.amazon.com/Wicca-404-Advanced-Goddess-Thealogy-ebook/dp/B0010CHZCS/. I would be grateful if you would update the link. Thank you so much, Molly.
Awesome! One of my top favorite thealogical quotes. I very much enjoyed your book and should read it again! The link above has now been updated. :)