Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We have created this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted May 27, 2012. You can visit it here to see the original comments.
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.
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.
BIO: Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (barbaraardinger.com), is the author of Secret Lives, a novel about crones and other magical folks, Pagan Every Day, a unique daybook of daily meditations, and other books. She really enjoys writing her monthly blogs for FAR. Her work has also been published in devotionals to Isis, Athena, and Brigid. Barbara’s day job is freelance editing for people who have good ideas but don’t want to embarrass themselves in print. To date, she has edited more than 400 books, both fiction and nonfiction, on a wide range of topics. She lives in Long Beach, California, with her rescued calico cat, Schroedinger.