I have been re-reading Rebirth of the Goddess reflecting upon my own journey over these past 40 years, remembering how her image appeared to me as a bird goddess the day I first worked with river clay… When I discovered that some of the images I sculpted of bird goddesses mirrored those in Marijia Gimbutas’s The Language of the Goddess I entered an unknown realm. All I understood at the time was that I was being called by some unknown force. I had no idea that this power existed not only without, but within, and that someday I would be able to name both Nature and my Body as the source of that power. And come to understand that they are One.
“The image of the goddess is the catalyst that enables women to clear away the false consciousness of self hatred, dependence, and dualistic thinking created by patriarchal religion. Once this is accomplished the image of the goddess is no longer necessary.”
The goddess is then a transitional figure who ushers in immanence.
And yet, here are Carol’s words that describe the ‘both and aspect’ of her experience of the goddess. She writes:
“I experience the goddess by fully entering into a relationship with a particular tree, a mountain, a person, not by attempting to separate myself from… other beings… She (the goddess) has a personal aspect too – She is a power who cares about my life and the fate of the world”.
At no point does Carol suggest that the power of the goddess can stop the patriarchal rape of woman or climate change, only that she cares. The power of the goddess is not omnipotent. She operates within a finite and changeable world. “The cycles of nature are her cycles.” Carol also writes that when we violate the web of life the body of the goddess (nature) is desecrated.
At the time of her mother’s death Carol had a mystical experience that embedded her in the reality that the ground of all being is love. She said she understood that she was surrounded by a great matrix of love and always had been. “The power of the goddess is the intelligent embodied love…that undergirds every being, including plants, animals, and humans, as we participate in the spiritual processes of birth, death, and renewal.” This is revelation, is it not? I believe Carol took her scholarship and experience and infused it into every aspect of her life, passing it on to us as possibility regardless of where we might be on the goddess continuum.
Yesterday I visited a woman friend who loves animals the way I do, preferring their company to that of humans much of time. We call ourselves hermits, but of course, our animals and those we care for remind us that however much we may experience loneliness or despise ourselves/others we are infinitely lovable. (Yesterday my friend’s dog immediately sensed that I was struggling with loneliness and immediately showered me with kisses – herein lies the power of the goddess).
Why is it that betrayal by others has the power to turn us against ourselves? All I know is that for women like us that have been harmed by humans we loved, beginning with those in our own family, it is a natural response to channel rejection and distrust of people into feelings of loneliness, self/other hatred (often masked as depression) while turning to animals for acceptance, love, safety, and sustenance.
I may know what I am doing to myself but I have not found a way to overcome my general distrust of humans, although when I experience feelings of separation and self hatred I refuse to give into them relying on endurance to survive these periods. I have to remind myself over and over that nature is mirroring back the love I cannot feel from humans through my relationship with animals and nature as a whole.
I learned first that animals were my most powerful teachers; later the rest of nature ‘animated’ me literally bringing me back to life when all else failed.
I want to end this loneliness, this false sense of separation from people that my experiences, my attitude towards those that harmed me, and my patriarchal culture have laid upon me; I just don’t know how. In my mind I truly believe that all life is interconnected in mysterious ways, and in my body I can feel/ experience this relationship as truth it except when it comes to humans… Rejection and betrayal loom as threats and these are embodied too.
I think of Carol who experienced love as the ground of all being…
Perhaps the Goddess will intervene.
Sara is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.