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The Divine Feminine

Updated on September 15, 2014

What is Goddess Spirituality?

What does the term Divine Feminine mean to you? Could it be a Christian concept? Perhaps it's a Buddhist or a Pagan view if it's a religious concept at all. Or is this just some whacky 'New Age' movement?

First and foremost, it's an historical concept but are there people who still worship a female deity? I prefer the term goddess spirituality, avoiding the term worship which distances the Divine into a remote, hierarchical separation.

And yes, it's alive and well.

Cybele, ca. 200 BCE

In all her forms

Isis
Isis

Papyrys Museum

There are so many wonderful forms inhabited by the Divine Feminine. So many names, forms and associations, all of which represent not only the feminine aspects of divinity but also aspects of ourselves.

Human Nature hasn't changed over the thousands of years of our history, we still have the same fears and uncertainties. And women still face the same choices in life.

The Mother Goddess remains in myth, and a myth is symbolic narrative, so you can work with the allegorical interpretations.

It's simple enough to see the other meanings hidden below the surface of texts and make sense of the statements contained in them without taking literally their references to gods, monsters, or the supernatural.

"Through an understanding of what the Goddess was, we can better understand nature, and we can then build our ideologies so that it will be easier for us all to live".

Marija Gimbutas 1921 - 1994

Marija Gimbutas

Gimbutas was an archeologist, linguist, ethnologist, sociologist and and religious historian and largely responsible for the resurgence of interest in Goddess-oriented religions.

The basis of our view of history, our starting point for our studies is the hypothesis that civilisation and written language were born together in the ancient Middle East as a result of pressure from marauders ending in feats of empire-building.

Gimbutas challenged this view by showing three things

* That Neolithic urban settlements greatly pre-dated the "first cities" of the patriarchal tradition

* That at least some of these settlements had no defensive walls, no military burials, and no artwork recording warfare

* That the decorative designs of the artwork of these cultures may actually be a sophisicated system of symbols through which ideas and values could be recorded and transmitted.

During her life, Marija Gimbutas published nearly twenty books and over three hundred articles on European prehistory.

From 1950 to 1963, she taught at Harvard as a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, and researched early European history.

The Language of the Goddess
The Language of the Goddess

Co-authored with Joseph Campbell

 

Gimbutas challenged earlier views of humanity

By challenging long-held views, Gimbutas also challenged the concept laid down by the Hobbesian thesis. This is the idea that "primitive man" was a murderous brute, a violent, grasping savage incapable of living in society except under systems of excessive force. Without the iron fist of the tyrant the base "instincts" of rapine and murder are rampant, and society fails.

This Hobbesian view is present in modern political structures which still assume that humans are naturally vicious and must be repressed by a strong governmental structure.

Her interpretation of European prehistory caused shock and disdainful disbelief in some long-established quarters, her 'bias' was questioned and her conclusions dismissed as female fancy. This is the response you can expect when you challenge many traditional male assumptions.

God the Mother

An interesting, quite unusual, video on the concept of God the Mother

She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse

The importance for all those who try to link with the Absolute is to know that God is, more than to know exactly what she, it, or he, is.

She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse
She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse

This work is founded in tradition, yet manages to break from the aspects of tradition which are oppressive.

Johnson reviews the history of Christian language about God and explains the need for feminist language about God, while providing a background for non-theologians. She then develops an inclusive and creative Christian spiritual doctrine.

 

Demeter the Mother from Tales of the Ancient Greeks
Demeter, the ancient Greek Goddess of Agriculture, is perhaps best known for the abduction of her daughter Persephone, but she is much, much more. She has a...

Freya, the Lady, from Scandinavian Stories
Freya is best known in popular imagination as a beautiful and seductive Goddess, a well-proportioned strawberry blonde with a taste for Love. She is this, bu...

Bast the Beloved from Tales of Ancient Egypt
Bast is the protector of cats, women and children and holds the mysteries of the cat in her power - those magnetic animals with such strong power to fascinat...

The Frog Goddess
Ask anyone for the name of an Ancient Egyptian Goddess,and the answer will probably be Isis. But Isis was on her throne in heaven and the ordinary people ha...

Recognition of the Divine Feminine comes from these points

1. God is rooted in patriarchal concepts of dominance.

2. Early Goddess oriented civilisations were destroyed by aggressive Indo-European tribes who worshipped aggressive sky gods.

3. These newer world religions were monotheist, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, with one god who was male, and took shape in the Iron Age when men dominated societies in Europe and the Middle East.

© 2006 Susanna Duffy

Your Thoughts

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    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I've always felt the feminine to be divine, but in a less theological way :) Yet another great lens. congrats!

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 

      9 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I think our generation is seeing a rebirth and acceptance of the goddess mother which has allowed many women who haven't had an interest in "religion" to choose an alternative direction that is more suiting to their form.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      very interesting and informative lens, 5*

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