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The Re-empowerment of Women

Updated on February 21, 2015
Goddess Isis
Goddess Isis | Source

When God Was a Woman

The very first ultimate divinity was female. All religion centred around Her.

In classical Greece and Rome women enjoyed exclusive membership in certain religious cults and ritual practices. There were the Bacchantes who partook in the wild and ecstatic rites of Dionysius, and in Rome only the Vestal Virgins could enter the inner sanctum of the temple of Vesta, goddess of the hearth.

The White Goddess of Robert Graves

The goddess was the mother of earth and all living things as well as the perpetrator of death and destruction. She was Robert Graves’ Life-in Death and Death-in-Life, loving only to destroy and destroying to quicken.

Graves’ famous book ‘The White Goddess’ started a cult of its own with its premise that it was the female force which was omnipresent in all ancient cultures. It was the Muse poets prayed to for inspiration.

But the Goddess was not alone. She had a young god-consort by her side who impregnated her every year so she could bring forth the spring and the harvest again and again. Her consort was her subordinate, never her superior.

The Ancient Snake Goddess - God Was a Woman
The Ancient Snake Goddess - God Was a Woman | Source

The Many Names of the Goddess

The Goddess was known by different names all over the world: Kali, Inana or Ishtar, Isis, Cybele, Kuan Yin. . . However, as the eons passed by, her throne was first shared by male gods and then usurped by them.

Patriarchal Religion Displaces the Original Female Divinity

The Aryan invaders who conquered India, the Near East and Greece brought with them their male-oriented patriarchal religion. Violent and despotic gods replaced the all-powerful and compassionate mother of all creation.

Feminists to the Rescue

Feminists like Mary Daly, author of ‘God the Father’: Towards a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation’ argued that when women are denied the full potential of being human, trapped in the category of the second sex, their experience of life is diminished and their ability to fulfill their true potential is severely impaired – to the disadvantage of society on the whole.

Goddess Kali - Always Powerful In India
Goddess Kali - Always Powerful In India | Source

Women Considered Inferior

Mortal women too were swept along on the wave of this invasion and reduced to an inferior status. For centuries henceforth, the supremacy of the male deity went unchallenged. Author of ‘The Once and Future Goddess’, Elinor Gaydon, realized the self-empowerment that comes with belief in the female deity and therefore in herself. She writes:“I had experienced myself as sexual, sacred and powerful in a way no modern woman in the West can. Our psychological being has been severed from our biological selves for so long that we are completely cut off from our true natures. ”

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Elected In 2006 As First Presiding Female Bishop In The Episcopal Church
Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Elected In 2006 As First Presiding Female Bishop In The Episcopal Church | Source

Women in the Priesthood

It is this kind of feminist thinking that finally brought about the revival of feminine spirituality and power. In 1853 a woman was ordained as a Congregationalist Minister. Reformed Judaism appointed its first female rabbi in New York in 1972 and in 1994, after furious arguments and dissension, women were ordained as priests in the Church of England.

Manchester Cathedral in England witnessed an ecumenical women’s service in which God was referred to as She and Christ as Christa. It horrified and alarmed many of the cathedral clergy as well as orthodox Christians both male and female.

Woman had finally come full circle. The pagan and prehistoric Goddess had been restored to her throne. Yet She had never fallen off Her pedestal in India where Kali still reigns supreme.

The Most Inspirational Video For Women

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    • Anita Saran profile image
      Author

      Anita Saran 3 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Thank you ananceleste!

    • ananceleste profile image

      Anan Celeste 3 years ago from California

      Is amaizing how She has survived and resurfaced. The more people educate themselves about the origins of sacred feminine, the more we realize that it never went away. Fabulous!

    • Anita Saran profile image
      Author

      Anita Saran 3 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Many thanks Chef-de-Jour! Chaucer - I did that in my English Honours, but have forgotten about the Wife of Bath - I should check it out again.

      Nell, I appreciate your support. Your collection of Goddesses must be worth seeing.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      I have a great interest in Goddesses through the ages, in fact I have about five statues or ornaments indoors all over the place, so this was fascinating! Voted up and shared, nell

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 3 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you for this interesting article which takes us through many millenia of religious change and controversy. There's no doubt the 'battle of the sexes' is ongoing - how to keep the power balance between male and female roles is endlessly fascinating. And politically divisive. The debate tends to throw up more questions than answers!

      I'm reading Chaucer's Wife of Bath Tale at present - now she is a woman with strong opinions.

      I vote and share.