Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I was reading a bit online about goddesses (which I see as archetypal, a way of understanding facets of the Divine, a way for us to feel connected to the Great Mystery.) One of the ones that stood out for me is actually one that doesn't seem to be as written about as some others, and that is the Celtic Goddess Danu. (Also known by other names, such as Anu, and Don in Welsh.) She is Ireland's Great Mother Goddess, married to the Sun God Belenos,an Earth Goddess, and who in some versions gave birth to Brighid.

She is the Female Aspect of the Divine... She is the primal force, who came before everything else. She is the originator of the Cosmos. She is the Cycle of Life, and the Turning of the Seasons, the Goddess of birth, beginnings, fertility, generation, reincarnation, prosperity, and abundance. She is birther, sustainer, and giver. She is Healer. She is Wisdom, and Magick. She is the Tao.

She is particularly represented (or manifested) in wind, in rain, rivers and flowing waters, and has been called "Holy Waters from the Sky" - nourisher of the Sacred Oak. She is also associated with the moon - perhaps with Aine, the moon Goddess who protects the crops and livestock, as an aspect of herself. She is mother and queen of the fairies.

When considered to be part of the Morrigan, she is also strife and death, a balance between good and evil, light and dark, the sometimes mysterious and frightening aspect of female energy.

Some believe that Anu and Danu were separate goddesses, and not similar names for the same one. Some that Aine is Anu (I also saw Aine described as the Goddess of love and fertility as well as agriculture)... there are many overlaps and contradictions in what I've read, so it is difficult to pick through them. It is possible that Saint Anne is identified with her, sainted by the Catholics to draw in reluctant Pagans.

As a "triple goddess" she seems to be seen as the maiden aspect, despite her strong "mother" associations, often with Badb as mother and Macha as crone.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Beginning My Goddess Journey

I was raised with a patriarchal image of God but I've always known, intellectually, that there is a Divine Feminine. Even the Jewish and Christian holy books allude to that, although with Christianity that's often glossed over ... almost like the uber-masculine God was patting women on the head condescendingly "Sure, sure honey, femininity has its own power and is part of Me... Even the Great and Powerful Lord has feminine qualities" ... and then the folks running things in the earthly realm clarify that woman's power is to help men, who are the real focus of God's work. It always did kind of chafe me! I got all fired up about it as a teenage feminist - I didn't have experience or balance, but I certainly did have passion! (The plight of teenhood.) However, I don't know what it is to experience the Divine Feminine, to be in communion with Her...that is not something I've ever had.

This fall, I looked up some information on Paganism. I don't remember who or what, but someone said something that made me curious, and also made me think that maybe I didn't know as much about Paganism as I thought I did. Because being raised strict Torah-observant Christian, you learn a lot about Paganism. You learn all about the Pagan roots of Christmas and Easter, about pagan symbolism in modern Christianity, about the many many warnings in the Bible about pagans and witches, etc etc. So I did know a bit (a lot more than most Christians who insist that the decorated evergreen tree with presents under it is not pagan in origin... and even when they say "Yule log" they don't recognize the connection to ... um... Yule.) But there was a lot I didn't know, a lot I assumed, and a lot I just didn't understand. Because I had only learned about it through one filter, had only seen it from one paradigm.

I was blown away by what I learned. So many beautiful ideas and images... it's really stunning. Once you get over the "The Bible says this is Evil and you will be cursed" thought, past that way of reading the Bible... you see that there is Truth to be found in earth-based Paganism (can't speak for Heathens or other Pagans, since I don't know as much there... needless to say there is a world of diversity in Pagan belief). I am so inspired by the Feminine Divine.

I'm beginning to see that powerful men stole the messages of those who had been in communion with the Divine, who wanted to share their experience and encourage others to seek that connection... they took the messages and twisted them to suit their own purposes. At best they simply interpreted the messages through their very limited, patriarchal filter that couldn't understand, let alone relay, anything outside that view. They rewrote the Goddess as a noneity, as a pagan idol, as a symbol of rebellion against the true male God, as just one of the Devil's lies...and women as either whores and witches (the evil kind), or as good girls (submissive to men, never complaining, subservient, obedient, meek, asexual). Those are our choices: to either be Maleficent, the evil, selfish, powerful, destructive witch... or to be Aurora, who was sweet, good, giving, and so passive that she could sleep through the whole story without it mattering much. I am so glad that Paganism introduced me to a wonderful way to see woman at each stage of her life, and to the feminine aspect of the Divine.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Prologue of Me

In my mid-twenties, after college, I wanted to be re-connected to the Divine - I had kind of let that aspect of my life go a bit. I started seeking what Path He had for me. I ended up right back in Christian-based patriarchy, and for a while was in love with the whole kit-and-caboodle of it. Something in it really appealed to me, I was ready to commit to being obedient to my husband, wear Amish-type clothes, and move to a conservative Mennonite community. Fortunately my husband, while supportive of my journey even though he totally did not get it at all, was not the kind to be easily swayed with dogma and my convincing arguments and Bible verses and taped sermons. There was no way he was going to move us into the middle of a community that didn't allow television or the showing of bare arms. And honestly, the fact that they felt dancing and instrumental music were frivolous and possibly sinful (and therefore forbidden) had given me serious pause as well. No dancing? Because it's inherently sexual? Are you serious? I struggled with that, because on the one hand it didn't fit my idea of God and joyfulness (which all religions promise)...but on the other hand God's plans might not be my plans, and if He for some reason wanted me to give up dancing as part of a Higher Calling, then I should do that, right? Maybe it was a sacrifice I needed to make, for reasons I couldn't understand then. Anyway....... I came away from that unscathed, put away my little headcoverings and once again didn't know what my Path was. I wandered around a bit, looking for the Church that would give me the answers. Two years ago I read a book by Spong (Why Christianity Must Change) and it was like a revelatory experience... I felt that the Father-figure God I had always believed in was NOT what I had known Him to be. It was really hard for me, there was an element of greiving there. I also felt afraid - like without that belief, I was exposed and vulnerable, I didn't know which way to turn or what to do. And we were taught that the Devil would always try to lead us astray and that he was very convincing... maybe I was being decieved and lured by Satan Himself. Which may sound silly but to someone who believes in those things, it is a very real fear. I felt very lost. At the same time, I felt like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I realized that it was okay to let go of all my previous beliefs, to clear the slate entirely and start from scratch. That God had led people to Him who had never even heard of Him, that they didn't have learned men who instructed them about what God wanted, that they got that from God Himself. And if God could speak to Abraham out of the blue, He surely could lead me on the right path, to the Truth. I had nothing to lose, but everything to gain. And realizing this, I felt free. It was difficult for me, but honestly it would have been impossible for me to go back to the "Father in the Sky" Judeo-Christian God. I had already seen a glimpse of something else, that I didn't understand but recognized as real and true. Since then I've learned more about the nature of the Divine, and every little hint is amazing and beautiful.