Image: Front and back: “The Venus of Malta” (Standing Female Figure)
Clay. H. 13.3, W. 7.0, D. 4.5 cm, Ħaġar Qim Temple (Malta), 3600–2500 bce
Heritage Malta–National Museum of Archaeology: 21295
Courtesy of Heritage Malta, photography © Daniel Cilia
“Perhaps the most provocative discovery of recent archaeological research is that nowhere in Neolithic Goddess cultures is there any sign of warfare. There is no evidence of fortifications, of violent death, invasion or conquest. We can only conclude that there was some direct relation between Goddess religion and peaceful coexistence. Neolithic Goddess culture was woman-centered, peaceful, prosperous, and nonhierarchical.” Elinor Gadon
“Archaeologists ardently seek to find evidence of war in earlier societies, but there is actually no proof whatsoever of violence or war before the middle of the fifth millennium B.C.E. Although people built houses close together and lived in fairly high population density in the early urban centers, they apparently developed ways of resolving conflict and living in harmony with their environments that allowed them to share food and resources, irrigate fields, and participate in large ritual and artistic endeavors ” Goddess scholars believe that content and form cannot be separated and that the reason for the lack of violence and conflict in early societies is the presence of the active worship of the Great Mother.” Vicki Noble
There is a correlation between peaceful coexistence, a Great Mother and right brain values in society. The Great Mother lives on, timelessly in our psyches. The archetype of the Great Mother is a part of all men and women. An archetype is an inward image in the human psyche that exerts a powerful influence on the nature of an individual personality, and in turn, on the larger culture. Poet David Whyte says “An archetypal image is much bigger than we are — it has informed human life since the beginning of time and transcends individual experience.”
“The effect of this (Great Goddess) archetype may be followed through the whole of history, for we can demonstrate its workings in the rites, myths, symbols of early man and also the dreams, fantasies and creative works of the ” man of our day.” Erich Neumann
“Comparative religion ” teaches us that there is in man (beyond the psychological need for a father symbol) an equally great, or possibly even greater need: that of the divine woman who appears in many different forms throughout the world, yet remains basically the same everywhere.” Raphael Patai
Yet, the archetype of the Goddess has been suppressed in our psyches and our culture. While we have been acculturated to easily accept the masculine pronouns for God, we are challenged to accept the female pronouns. Even though we may hold that God is beyond gender, the female pronouns seem awkward. Carol Christ, PhD, Religious Studies at Yale, writes: “Theologians frequently assert that God has no body, no gender, no race and no age. Most people state that God is neither male nor female. Yet most people become flustered, upset or even angry when it is suggested that the God they know as Lord and Father might also be God the Mother, or Goddess.”
I know that when I first experimented with making “Goddess” a part of my vocabulary, it felt strange, and I wondered why I should bother. I really didn’t like the word “Goddess” – it felt uncomfortable and unnecessary. Yet, at a time of crossroads in my life, the term kept rising up from within me — it was a feminine voice I had never heard. I began to study the sacred feminine — the erudition of anthropologists, psychologists, feminist scholars, poets, archeologists and historians. And the more I persisted in my studies of the sacred feminine, the more it was revealed to me just how deeply imbedded the “masculine” hierarchy had been within my psyche. I eagerly saturated myself in the feminine experience of the divine. This was deeply transformative. I felt that a long lost part of me was being restored — that I was connecting to the deepest core of my being and finding there a power and strength that was beyond anything I had experienced. It bubbled up within me and turned my perception of our cultural mores upside-down. My foundational beliefs had been pried up just enough to allow me to access the vast and fecund psychic terrain beneath. She Who Dwells Within every human psyche at our deepest collective level, broke free within me This feminine presence confirmed my gut level “knowing” that hierarchies, war, environmental destruction, a world in which children suffer and grow to repeat the same patterns of pain — this is not the only reality for humans. A world of peaceful co-existence, harmony with the natural world, honoring of the human body and all life forms – a world in which children are safe and can thrive in the expression of their own unique beauty and divinity — this is our birthright. We can look at history and contemporary matriarchal cultures to see pieces of what is possible.
Many people on the planet are opening up to higher levels of consciousness, but as we go higher, we must also dig deeply into the archetypal realms, into the body’s wisdom and our collective history. “The Mother has left memory in us all.” She is the honoring of community, interdependence, birth, nurturing, empathy, intuitive intelligence, creativity, earth, nature, the eternal cycles of birth, growth, death and renewal, sensuality and sacred sexuality. For so long, our left-brain dominant theological journey has made heaven (the realm of God) an abstraction, earth a proving ground for the soul, and life a time to earn immortality. The Goddess is earth. Her heaven is here. Her children are born into Her divinity, rather than the traditional view of being born into a troubled earth, to one-day return to heaven. Heaven is here.
As we endeavor to move beyond the limitations of the mind into expanded consciousness, we must first witness what is operating in the mind. Foundational beliefs that have been in place because of our left-brain dominance and male monotheistic culture can be tough for us to access, to see within ourselves. These foundational beliefs can become quite clear not by trying to look directly at them, but instead, by focusing on their complement. The very unfamiliarity and awkwardness of the term, “Goddess” indicates just how deeply male monotheism is operating, even though we may state that the divine is beyond gender. We can only say we’ve gone beyond gender when the term “Goddess” is as comfortable and natural as the term “God.” Ultimately we have gone beyond when we are that very thing that we have conceived of as the divine – when we are the image and likeness of the divine as it expresses uniquely through us.
The great teachers, whose wisdom provides the foundation of the world’s religions, have modeled for us what it means to be divinely embodied. All of the world’s faiths have at their core magnificent wisdom — it is misinterpretation that brings disharmony and division right up to this present day. If looking at some of our foundational beliefs helps us to come into balance and regain our interconnectedness with each other and nature, then we need to do it. We are all using the right hemispheres of our brains more, and this bodes well for humankind. We are the co-creators of heaven on earth. Leadership for a new era will be based on the integration of the feminine, as expressed through both women and men and the restoration of the sacred feminine has profound implications for every sphere of leadership – within families, communities, businesses, health, education, governments and the global economy. The United Nations’ World Conference on Women affirms that the advancement of women is central to every dimension of global development. A sustainable world cannot be built using the old, out-of-balance model. The feminine face of the divine has been missing for far too long. Thankfully, “the Mother has left a memory in us all.”
More information and DVDs of “In Our Right Minds” are available online at: www.inourrightminds.com .
Divine Women – Lost Era of the Priestess
Divine Women – War of Words