Through the Eyes of the 21st Century Bird Goddess by Carolyn Lee Boyd


Carolyn Lee BoydWhen I raise my eyes to a bird soaring over me in flight, I am no longer bound to the Earth by gravity. I stop my round of daily tasks and widen my vision to view myself and our world from above through birds’ eyes. For just a moment, as I observe beyond my usual narrow horizon, I perceive truths about myself and others that have been hidden and grasp wisdom that has previously eluded me.

From Neolithic times onwards in cultures stretching across the globe, as described by Judith Shaw, bird-shaped goddesses have embodied life, death, rebirth, and more. More recently, as noted by Miriam Robbins Dexter, these beautiful winged beings were perceived of as monsters and flying through the air was one of the accusations made against the women persecuted as witches in the Burning Times. What greater demonstration could there be of the intense terror this powerful relationship between women and birds creates in those who demand dominion over women’s bodies and souls?

Flying DinosaursPerhaps we now need a re-envisioned Bird Goddess for the 21st century to help us see ourselves and all beings, our planet, and even our cosmos anew through Her eyes. We would experience not only a wider panorama of space, but also of time, for flying dinosaurs have lived on Earth for 140 million years.

First, we would see ourselves as tiny, struggling beings on a huge blue and white ball. We would notice our fragile bodies and overworked minds and spirits and most of us would be amazed at how we have transcended the challenges we experience everyday to dream of a more peaceful, just, sustainable future and then to get to work each morning to make it happen. We would see ourselves imagining entire universes in our words, art, music, and bodies. Through the Bird Goddess we would see that we can be magnificent.

Yet, as we gazed across time, we would also be horrified at the many catastrophic actions — wars, conquests, oppressions, and other injustices — we as individuals, communities, nations, and a species have done over the millennia. Through the Bird Goddess, we would have to face, and begin to make amends for, what we have done and perhaps begin to heal these wounds.

Blue MarbleThen we would move to a higher view, seeing our planet just as humans saw the entire Earth for the first time decades ago and were awestruck. We would understand what is at stake when we devastate our environment and that the primary characteristics of the world we were born into are beauty and sacredness. Because we and all other beings are part of this world, we too, are sacred and beautiful.

Finally, we would go higher still and see the cosmos and the 95% of our universe that is dark energy and dark matter that we cannot experience with our meager human senses. Through the Bird Goddess we would come to know that whatever conflicts we have with other beings, whatever anxieties and fears we have allowed to rule our lives, whatever miseries we dwell on, we are an essential part of a unity that is much more vast and endlessly delightful than we could have previously imagined. We could live a million lives and still never stop being fascinated by our universe.

What a difference it could make in our own lives and our effectiveness as feminists and spiritual activists if we could see through the eyes of the Bird Goddess each day!

How mighty would we be If we could cast off the self-limiting images of ourselves we have been taught by our society when we face a challenge? How encouraging would it be if we could truly see that we are not alone but are surrounded by billions of women all over the world who want only the best for their families and communities and the world?

What if we could see the whole river of human history, as well as that of our individual ancestors, including the millennia of progress towards equality and justice as well as the acts of injustice and oppression done by our ancestors who came before us? Would we not have wiser and more comprehensive insights into how we came to live in a world that is ecologically unsustainable, unjust, and full of violence? Might we not think of solutions we never had before?

What if the Earth and all beings were considered to be so beautiful that their destruction was morally unthinkable? What if our differences were thought to make us each uniquely beautiful to each other? Would we not be even more passionate and committed than we are now?

What if we were endlessly fascinated by our entire universe, including the tiny part we live in? Would we still be so susceptible to depression and despair as we went about our work to heal our world?

Seeing through the eyes of the new Bird Goddess, we can learn to perceive the world differently, which changes what we say, how we behave, and how we interact with people. When we do that, we can begin to transform our own lives and those of all whom we encounter. Like our women ancestors who found in a bird’s flight all that is most profound in our universe, the Bird Goddess’s gift may be just what we need most today. May we all be lifted on Her wings.

 

Carolyn Lee Boyd is a writer, drummer, community builder, herb gardener, home renovator, and denizen of Michigan, New York City, and New England. Her essays, short stories, memoirs, reviews, and poetry have been published in, among others, SageWoman, Matrifocus, The Beltane Papers, Feminism and Religion and The Goddess Pages. She would love for you to visit her at her website, http://www.goddessinateapot.com.

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Categories: Earth-based spirituality, Ecofeminism, General, Goddess Spirituality

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22 replies

  1. What if the Earth and all beings were considered to be so beautiful that their destruction was morally unthinkable? What if our differences were thought to make us each uniquely beautiful to each other? Would we not be even more passionate and committed than we are now?

    Amen.

    And who would ever say that a black stork is more beautiful than a purple heron or that a wren is less interesting than a willow warbler? Beauty is the great gift of bounteous earth and diversity and difference are what make bird watching and life interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a wonderful insight! It reminds me of a project my son had to do in school in which he had to find and identify some 40 different species of trees that were all in our small town. As I went on his “tree tour” with him I was amazed – here I am someone who thought I was aware of nature and most of those trees I had never paid attention to, never seen even though they were right in front of me. The diversity of nature, even as we lose so many species every day, is miraculous.

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      • Yes I felt the same until I started birdwatching, I have also learned many of the tree species in Crete, and quite a bit about ge-ology, the earth beneath our feet. I agree with my mentor (by books) Charles Hartshorne is that one of the most important things is to be interested in life, in all its aspects, then you are never bored and less likely to be depressed.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, what if? One of my favorite and most admirable birds–a bird I hope to become in my next life–is the simple seagull. I love to go out to Bodega Bay on the coast of Northern California where I’m fortunate enough to live–and watch them hanging out on the pier, diving and soaring about, squawking and flapping. I think they’re so lucky to be able to swim, to fly, to walk about. They can eat just about anything and live just about anywhere, live collectively or alone. I look forward to joining them sometime in the not too distant future.

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  2. “May we all be lifted on her wings” indeed! beautiful.

    Fascinating and inspiring post. Thank you.

    Synchronistically, I have an altar space (which is quite large) where I often place objects for reflection etc. Recently, I was drawn to place writings from shamanic eagle, along with a picture of a peacock, which represents beauty and I was also drawn to draw an oracle card, from a deck I don’t use much. I smiled when the Eagle King card came up. I remember thinking at the time, what about an Eagle Queen?!

    I was fascinated by the comparison (if that’s the right word) between birds and flying witches – that absolutely had not crossed my mind before and your explanation makes perfect sense.

    Thank you for your insights.

    Kind regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Carolyn Lee Boyd, for sharing this fascinating article here at Feminism and Religion.

    I agree and love this comment of yours, where you say: “What if we were endlessly fascinated by our entire universe, including the tiny part we live in? Would we still be so susceptible to depression and despair as we went about our work to heal our world?”

    Searching around on the Net, I linked my name here to a fabulous comment at NASA, along with a super-enlarged photo of our beloved Earth — and also describing our planet so beautifully, it says — “Dubbed the Blue Marble, Earth is revealed as both a vast planet home to billions of creatures and a beautiful orb capable of fitting into the pocket of the universe.”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I live next to a bird sanctuary, which I now see with “new eyes”. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love bird sanctuaries. Every summer I go to a lake and visit a project in which a handful of scientists – all women I believe – have spent many years of their careers saving one species of shore bird, each year collecting and hatching abandoned eggs and then returning the chicks to their nesting grounds. Those who create and maintain these and other bird sanctuaries are a special kind of saint, I think.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have such respect for people who give over so much of their lives and attention to preserving some little piece of the giant puzzle that makes up this little blue marble of ours.

        Lilith

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  5. Glorious imaginings and imagery. Even though I live with two rescued cats, I think birds are living miracles. And I’ve recently had a “conversation” with a realtor to whom I said we cannot own parts of our Mother Planet because the planet is a living being, as is everything on her–people, animals, plants, rocks, water, etc.(We can’t own our “pets” because owning them is like slavery.) I love the idea of flying high and seeing the planet with new eyes.

    Thanks for writing this. This is the first thing I’ve read today; it woke me up.

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  6. Further synchronicities – after posting my comment, I travelled by a bus I commonly use, into a town I don;t visit very often.

    On the bus, I was abruptly drawn to turn my head to the right – only to see the street name, Eagle’s Way. I had never noticed that street name before. I went into town and saw The Eagle Tavern.

    I then went into a christian bookshop and saw a bookmark with Isaiah 40:3l – For those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength: They shall mount up with wings like eagles.

    God Bless.

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  7. What greater demonstration could there be of the intense terror this powerful relationship between women and birds creates in those who demand dominion over women’s bodies and souls? A wonderful question to ask. I think it’s important to note that many of the ancient bird goddesses also had serpents as aspects of themselves because serpents are the sprirt of life incarnate…

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