How a Woman Became a Goddess: Athena by Laura Loomis

A large part of my fascination with Goddesses has to do with images of female power in cultures that were (and are) overtly patriarchal.  Power has a tricky balance:  when it’s being abused, the struggle is to find a way to overcome the oppressor without becoming one yourself.  But to paraphrase Erica Jong, the best oppressors don’t beat you – they get you to beat yourself.  I have been thinking about this as I watch Democrats hand power over to Republicans ever since coming back into control of the government.

Which brings me to Athena.

Athena may have had her origins as a Cretan or North African mother Goddess.  But by classical times in Greece, she was firmly established as the virgin Goddess of wisdom, household crafts, and war and peace.  It’s said that Zeus, like his father and grandfather before him, feared that his child would be more powerful than himself.  So when Metis was pregnant with Athena, he challenged her to a shape-shifting contest.  She took the form of a fly, and Zeus swallowed her.  (I don’t know why he swallowed that fly…)   Continue reading “How a Woman Became a Goddess: Athena by Laura Loomis”

Goddess Meditation: Pattini by Laura Loomis

I first became interested in Goddess spirituality because of my love of storytelling.  Centuries-old stories yield multiple layers of meaning, and can be told many different ways to get at different truths.  In this respect, the written word is both a blessing and a curse.  It preserves stories that might otherwise be lost; who knows what tales were told about the Venus of Willendorf, or the giant heads on Easter Island?  But it also gives rise to the idea that there is a single “right” version of sacred stories.  Adam and Eve can be a meditation on choice and responsibility, but the insistence on taking the story literally can turn it into a command to disbelieve science.

I’ve been working on some meditations about the connection between Goddess spirituality and political activism.  Last weekend, with people across the country rising up against Proposition 8, I was reminded of a story from Sri Lanki, about the Goddess Pattini.

Pattini (also called Kannaki or Kannagi) began life as an ordinary woman, in a less-than-perfect marriage.  Her husband Kovolan was a philanderer, lured away from her by a beautiful young dancer.  After he’d burned through all their money, the dancer left him broke and alone.  A wiser Kovolan returned to Pattini and begged her forgiveness. Continue reading “Goddess Meditation: Pattini by Laura Loomis”

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