I am an inventor, a mythmaker, who has received/taken remnants of her indigenous religious heritage, and newly available parts, and spun and woven new threads, fabrics and stories.[i]
My method of approach has been informed by my deep personal involvement … my need to “place” myself here – as feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray suggests that woman needs to do.[ii]
Irigaray said that woman is not situated, “does not situate herself in her place,” that she serves as a thing and is thus nude.[iii] I have intuitively felt the need to “clothe” myself, to find the Place within me, to move from object to sentient subject.[iv]
The way the Cosmos was for a white girl child of Western European descent growing up in country Australia, with Protestant religious teachings, was a place surveyed scrupulously by a vengeful Father God, who was at the same time spoken of as the epitome of Love. What did that do to one’s understanding of Love? How does a woman – or any person – become functional within such a cosmology?
I did eventually uncover that this father god was deeply divorced from an earlier Earth-based heritage that had been completely covered over within the Protestant reality … a heritage that had a Female form, which I became very hungry to know. The journey has been Home.
I was a religious young person with a heart seeking the essence of a sentient Cosmos, but blind to the androcracy of the offered teachings and texts. My feminist awakening came in the late 1970’s via the early writings of philosopher Mary Daly.[v] There began the conscious search and passion for a cosmology that included and embraced me and my female kind fully:
The Form and the Shape that they sought
was not in any Atlas.
Her gaps had been covered up,
Her hollows filled in,
Her name blanked out.
She lay buried beneath things, silent,
but with a detectable visceral pulse.[vi]
Admonished and encouraged by Monique Wittig’s famous: “Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent”,[vii] I eventually became bold enough to assume such a task – the task of re-creating a gynocentric cosmology in which I could situate myself. I had no plan, just a felt necessity that drew me on – it was completely organic.
The process has included three qualities: (i) the transformation of making Space to Be … much had to be broken down, dismantled, and debris removed; (ii) the dedication to the sacred Urge to Be – daring the journey and; (iii) the creating of a dynamic Place to Be … being in communion with others, growing and in-forming each other with new knowledge. A gynocentric cosmology was spun from remnants and newly available parts, and ceremoniously embodied in sacred space through her full cycle of creativity – the Seasonal Moments expressed in my place on the planet … in a process over decades. Early on I sensed the power of ceremonial concourse with Her, the power of creating ceremonial space that participated in Her full cycle of Creativity, wherein She could be spoken, sung and danced into being. The sentient cosmos honors this: She is a relational reality, loves attentive con-versation.
Over years I have developed a Poetry and aesthetics for the Solstices, Equinoxes and cross-quarter days, based in the work of Starhawk,[viii] yet re-created with celebration of Her as the creative dynamic unfolding the Cosmos. I wrote:
… I am not referring to a “feminine” part of the Divine, nor to some complementary partner to the Great Mystery, nor to some “half” of the Creative Principle of the Universe. When I speak of Her, She is a name for the whole Creative Principle.[ix]
The unfolding gynocentric cosmology was/is grounded in Western European Pagan/indigenous tradition, linked to story of the unfolding universe – Cosmogenesis, and in particular expressed with female metaphor … triple Goddess poetry: unfolding as a Poiesis of the creative cosmos, the making of a world. I wrote a doctoral thesis on it. I spoke of Her as the Female Metaphor.
It began with a passion to know Her as the Name of the Cosmos – the Mantra Matrika, by which the universe is spoken into being.[x] I desired to study Her three qualities – as the patriarchs had (struggled) to do for their trinity, for their version of Her: I had a passion to fathom their significance. Self-described “geologian” Thomas Berry described three qualities of Cosmogenesis … the process by which Western science understands the universe comes into being,[xi] and I identified these three qualities with Hers: Her triplicity with essential cosmological creativity. Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry call these three features of Cosmogenesis “cosmological orderings of the creative display of energy everywhere and at any time throughout the history of the universe.”[xii] They say these three refer to the “basal intentionality of all existence” and they are “beyond any simple one-line univocal definition”.[xiii]They are highly complex, interconnected and ongoing processes. And so She is.
The triple spiral motif, the triple goddess, many triplicities around the world may express this – the nature of Her creative unfolding of the Cosmos in every moment. And She may be celebrated in a year long process of seasonal creativity as Earth orbits our Sun: I translated a devotional practice of such celebration to my place in the Southern Hemisphere, in Australia. The consistent sacred space became a Gaian Womb, a sacred site, that has held and nurtured many.
The path over the decades has been long and winding. Robin Morgan’s poetry has nursed me since early times:
I am learning.
The cord is wrapped around my throat.
I am learning.
The passageway is cramped and blind
I am learning
though Kali dances through it, past
where Demeter still seeks Persephone,
where Isis searches for the fragments of Osiris, where I wade upstream through a living current
which seizes me and drowns me into life,
pumping, pumping, as from a giant heart
whose roar I have called Mother in my dreams.
What do you remember?
What is it that you long for still?
Oh let me hear you hear
me speak oh
me oh let me[xiv]
O One who Hears
Let me Speak
What is it that
Wants to be Spoken?
O speak to me o
hear me speak you
am given, received … Met[xv]
And so, it is.
May each find Her reciprocity:
We are/She is creator and created, always at the same time.
© Glenys Livingstone 2015
Glenys Livingstone Ph.D. (Social Ecology) is the author of PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion and has recently produced PaGaian Cosmology Meditations CDs. She has been on a Goddess path since 1979, which has included diverse spiritualities and a scientific perspective, inner and communal work as well as academic scholarship. Her studies have been in theology, ritual, archaeomythology, social ecology, psychology, sociology and education. Glenys lives in the Blue Mountains Australia with her partner Taffy Seaborne, where she has facilitated Seasonal ceremony for over two decades, taught classes and mentored apprentices. In 2014 Glenys co-facilitated the Mago Pilgrimage to Korea with Dr. Helen Hwang. Glenys’s website is http://pagaian.org
Daly, Mary. Beyond God the Father; Towards a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation. Boston: Beacon Press 1973.
_________ Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism. London: The Women’s Press, 1979.
Irigaray, Luce. An Ethics of Sexual Difference. (trans. Carolyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill) NY: Cornell University Press, 1993.
Morgan, Robin. Lady of the Beasts. NY: Random House, 1976.
Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. Lincoln NE: iUniverse, 2005.
Starhawk. The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. NY: Harper and Row, 1989.
Swimme, Brian and Berry, Thomas. The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era. NY: HarperCollins, 1992.
Walker, Barbara. The Woman’s Encyclopaedia of Myths and Secrets. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983.
Wittig, Monique. Les Guerilleres. NY: Avon Books, 1973.
[i] Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology, p.44.
[ii] Luce Irigaray, An Ethics of Sexual Difference.
[iii] Luce Irigaray, An Ethics of Sexual Difference, p.10-11.
[iv] Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology, p.4.
[v] Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father and Gyn/Ecology.
[vi] Glenys Livingstone , 1997.
[vii] Monique Wittig, Les Guerilleres. NY: Avon Books, p.89.
[viii] Starhawk, The Spiral Dance.
[ix] Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology, p.25.
[x] as Barbara Walker describes, The Woman’s Encyclopaedia of Myths and Secrets, p.546.
[xi] See The Universe Story by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, pp 66-79.
[xii] Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p.72
[xiii] Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p.71, referred to by Glenys Livingstone in PaGaian Cosmology, pp. 45-48.
[xiv] Robin Morgan, “The Network of the Imaginary Mother”, Lady of the Beasts, p.85.
[xv] Glenys Livingstone, 2006.