Saturday, June 07, 2008


A powerfully down-to-earth Goddess as a Jewish mother is evoked in comedian Sherry Glaser’s performance “Oh my Goddess.”

She features Ma holding forth on the fate of creation since she took a 5000-year-long nap, leaving “your father” in charge of the kids.

He started acting like he’s the only God in the universe… and let you play with guns and bombs and missiles. Not in my house!” [“God’s better half just woke up, and boy is she mad.” Jessica Werner, San Francisco Chronicle, June 22, 2006]

Glaser told an interviewer that “we are way out of whack on earth, so if we restore the mother and serve, honor, protect, pleasure her, everything will be all right. I do believe that.”
The above came from an excellent article in Goddess Pages by Max Dashu. The article, which is part of a series, is "The Meanings of Goddess - Part 3: Essentialism or Essence? Out from the Land of Theory."

And let's hear a huge round of applause for Geraldine Charles, editor of Goddess Pages -- that ezine is just fabulous. The Summer edition also includes "Even Queens Need a Fairy Godmother," "Bloody Women! A Magical Experience of the Menstrual Cycle," and "Baba Yaga Stories" by Susun Weed.

Great going, Geraldine. Keep us the great work!

Getting back to Max's article: a lot of it is about how academics and feminists begin foaming at the mouth at the mere mention of 'Goddess.' Mention "Mother Goddess," and their eyes roll back into their heads, and the foam coming out of their mouths begins to turn green.

They squeak about Goddess and Mother Goddess being bogeymen who will turn all of us purple and warty in a trice. Their reasoning makes not one iota of sense, but here it is anyway: women are considered crackerheads, so even thinking about Goddess or Mother Goddess will devalue them (women) even more.

I know, I know. Makes no sense whatsoever. If someone’s a crackerhead, you pair hir with what ISN’T crackerhead. Don't you?

I mean, am I nuts here, or what? Talking about their divinity is going to re-value, not de-value women.

You don’t have to read any of the following (lifted from Max’s wonderful article) if you don’t want to, but it’s stuff I want to remember:

I’m alarmed about New Age commodification ... as Goddess culture gets popularized and marketed. Consumerist trendiness and prosperity consciousness corrupt what is genuine.... In more than a few cases, the rush toward “the divine feminine” literally does mean feminine in its most retrograde media form: ... thin, pretty, young, longhaired females, usually white, sticking their breasts out in unnatural positions.... They don’t appear powerful or present in their bodies, but tense, posed, and decorative...."

Myth and ritual have transformative power. Ifi Amadiume describes how Igbo [African] women use them in their oaths of solidarity at shrines, in women’s strikes and collective actions of calling men to account by making them eat fufu and swear oaths at the shrine of the goddess Ala. The Igbo Women’s War of 1929 drew extensively on ritual forms— processions, carrying wands, ceremonial dress of leaves—in its mass protest of British colonial taxes and puppet chiefs...

We’ve been treated to repeated academic warnings of the dangers of “goddess monotheism.” None of the writers flogging this threat concern themselves with the historical monotheism that restricted divinity to a single male god....

Many academic writers feel impelled to deplore the “essentialist” concept of a “mother goddess,” although goddesses were directly known by this title in numerous cultures. Isis notwithstanding, Lotte Motz insists that there was never any Mother Goddess, and goes so far as to claim that “mother” has nothing to do with Kybele’s titles of Great Mother (Magna Mater) and Mother of the Gods (Mater Deum). She writes, “no creature [!] could be further from the celebration of biological motherhood, and the title Magna Mater surely designates her as a great queen.” [Faces of the Goddess, p. 120] This is extreme even for goddess-averse academia….

None of this is to say that “mother” is the only signifier for Goddess.... There are creator goddesses, fates and lawgivers, immanent powers of land, sea, and sky, of fire or clouds, of animals and birds.... However, none of these categories are exclusive of “mother,” and in a great many traditions, this attribute mixes freely and frequently with the others, including some, such as warrior or destroyer, that conflict with the more conservative images of what “mother” might signify. If we look to indigenous religions, “mother” is a truly expansive concept, and a divine one.

The Gouandousou statues of the Bambara display the various and multivalent meanings of Goddess, including the kind academics routinely reject as untenably “essentialist” because of their connection to body mysteries: menstruation, pregnancy and lactation. This is “dangerous” terrain, both in animist terms and in the sexual politics of patriarchy. In Bambara culture (as for countless others) it is a terrain of female potency.

One final note about Max’s article: she’s drenched it with fab examples. In this case, it’s examples of dozens of cultures both past and present heavily saturated with rituals, beliefs, art, music and dance revolving around MOTHER GODDESS. Completely confounding, I’m sure, to all those so-called experts who contend people don’t worship female divinity.
thnx to NadiaRusso for the foto of the Goddess Oya; go HERE to see more of NadiaRusso's work.

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