A Journey to the Divine Feminine

A Journey to the Divine Feminine by Mary Reid Bogue MotherHouse of the Goddess

Welcome to MotherHouse of the Goddess.  We’re glad you’ve come.  Perhaps you’re looking to learn more about goddesses and the Divine Feminine.  Perhaps you’re looking to connect with a community of women centered on spirituality, authenticity, and creativity.  You’ve come to the right place.

I myself am a seeker. 

My journey to the God(dess) began in earnest in the last decade.  At least, it’s only recently that I’ve been able to put a name on that constant, growing longing in my heart for more.  It’s only in the last two years that I joined a Women’s Studies program and began to formally study feminist theory and women’s spirituality in the classroom.  And it’s only in the last six months that I discovered Motherhouse of the Goddess and connected to a living, breathing, active and inspiring community of women.

Journey to the GoddessLike a spiraling labyrinth, I’ve been on this path all along, I just didn’t know it.  Winding around and back again, I draw closer to the center, and then turn away again for a time.  Being a goddess-worshipper, spiritual seeker, and a soul traveler is like this.  You find communities that nurture you, and other times you are alone.  You experience ecstatic moments of connection, and then suddenly plunge into utter darkness.

As a child, I loved the routine and ritual of being a part of a church community.  I loved the candles, the songs and the chance to meditate on the meaning of life each week.  But as I grew older, I started to notice that I was out of place.  I looked up at the pulpit and saw only aging men.  I looked at the elders and deacons, and, again, saw only men.  The only place I saw women was in the choir.  So I asked for a robe and a song-book.  But I never understood why the only way that I could raise my voice in God’s temple was in song.*  I read that Eve was the cause of sin in the Garden of Eden, and ever since then I was uncertain about Christianity, at least in a traditional sense.  I got really worried, because I knew that I would have bitten into that apple. I’ve never been able to resist knowledge.  And what kind of god wouldn’t want his creation to gain wisdom?

As I grew older, the church became less and less relevant.  I discovered books.  Within the pages of A Tale of Two Cities, To Kill a Mockingbird, countless Shakespeare plays, and the poetry of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and the essays of Thoreau and Emerson, a new world opened up to me.  I saw beauty, learned of love and loss, betrayal and honesty.  I learned more of the soul from Plato’s dialogues than I ever learned from a church pulpit.  So reading and writing became my religion and there was, and is, always more to discover.

I left home to study liberal arts at a tiny hermitage of a school in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Santa Fe New Mexico.  While there, I steeped myself in philosophy, mathematics, music, languages, and the history of science.  I did every single assignment, took endless notes, and wrestled with many of the fundamental ideas of Western Civilization.  Yet every week, as I returned to my dorm after our seminars, I felt empty and confused.  Something was missing!

The knowledge was wonderful, to be sure, my peers and tutors challenging and wise, but I could not believe that Western philosophy and ethics, logic, and abstraction were the only truths.  Indeed, they are not the only systems of thought—but at the time, my world was filled only with these voices.  These voices were of white men of privilege.  It wasn’t something we talked about.  It wasn’t even something that I realized at the time, only years later.  Then, I didn’t even know what feminism was.  I just knew that I despised Aristotle for his comment that the “The female is, as it were, a mutilated male” (The Generation of Animals).  The women in the classroom sat in silence while several of the men snickered and jested at his word choice.  I didn’t find it funny.

Aristotle also writes that women are inferior in rationality, are passive while men are active, and that woman is a ‘monstrosity.’  To his credit, he does believe that women and men should receive an equal education.  And yet, these beliefs—propagated by many of the ‘great’ thinkers of Western civilization—have been the cause of unequal treatment of women for centuries.  In fact, Simon DeBeauvoir contended with these arguments in her essay “The Second Sex,” as did many other feminists.  And unfortunately, these same ideas still exist today when a women is told that she is irrational because she is on her period, to “calm down,” when she expresses an unpopular opinion or to sit down and shut up.  I find the fact that these things were not discussed during my education to be appalling, considering their powerful impact on Western society and gender roles.

We read Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, but again, the view of women as marriageable property, or the despair felt by both Woolf and her female characters was discussed—but only as a plot element, not a function of patriarchy.  I graduated, feeling empty and unsure why.

Journaling and the Journey to the GoddessSeven years ago when I graduated from college, I went to live on an organic vineyard in California where I spent a summer working in a herb garden and just generally reading and spending time outside.  For those of you who have never been to California, you should go.  The landscape there is breath-taking.  The light in Northern California is like nothing I’ve ever seen before—purple blue and hopeful in the morning and gold pink in the evening.

Luckily, the previous tenant of the room I stayed in was a feminist.  I stumbled across some books in the closet—the writings of Emma Goldman, Inga Muscio’s Cunt and Sylvia Brenton Perera’s book on the goddess Inanna (details below) and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.  And I exploded.  All my rage at patriarchy, the years I’d spent being good and nice and getting taken advantage of and Aristotle poured out.  There was nothing I could do to stop it.

I filled three journals that summer and fantasized about doing moonlit rituals on the open field just outside my window.  But I wasn’t quite ready yet.  I began to read about the Divine Feminine and feminist spirituality.  I stalked alternative and feminist bookstores and, trust me, the Bay Area was the perfect place to be at the time.

But then I lost track of the goddess for a while.  I got a job, well, three actually, and focused on living the 9-5 life and paying the bills.  I dated.  I got in a fateful car accident and moved in with someone I barely knew.  I got trapped in an abusive relationship.  I got pregnant.

Life became pretty dark, and I abandoned all hope that there was a plan for my life.  But then, when I was giving birth to my daughter, I had a vision of the goddess Diana (aka Artemis) standing on a golden California hilltop, bow stretched taut, her white dress blowing in the wind.  She gave me strength, and reminded me of my calling to the Divine Feminine.  Ever since that day, nearly five years ago, my path has been winding back to Her.

There is no right way to the Goddess.  You can worship however you please.  You may feel called to one goddess, or several or none at all.  But, if you’re like me, in a world that is beginning to shift away from patriarchy, from dominance and destruction, you need a new paradigm.  If you’ve been raised in a patriarchal society (and many are, though it manifests differently), then you may feel a calling to the Divine Feminine, regardless of your gender.  It’s time to start worshipping at the altars of wholeness, of creativity, and of transformation.

This has been my story.  What’s yours?  Let us know in the comments, if you feel led, and welcome, again, to Motherhouse.

*Please note that this is indicative of my personal experience growing up in a protestant church.  Not all churches are the same, and everyone’s experience is different.

Questions:

What is patriarchy?

According to historian Gerda Lerner, “patriarchy in its wider definition means the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over women and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over women in society in general.”

What is this school of which you speak?

I attended St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  There is a sister campus in Annapolis, MD.  It’s a fantastic school, with four years of reading and writing with like-minded people.  However, the program is designed around the “great books” of Western Civilization, beginning with the Greeks.  By senior year, students are reading Marx, Freud, Virginia Woolf, and the Constitution.  One of the consequences of this type of program is that, due to lack of preservation of women’s work in the Western canon, or perhaps, not classifying as ‘great’ to the college, there are only two female authors on the program (Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf).  But, I would counter:  What about Sappho?  What about Hypatia, Simone DeBeauvoir, Sojourner Truth, Emily Dickinson, the Bronte sisters, or even John Stuart Mill’s “On the Subjection of Women”?  Just talking about the state of women and women’s rights in Western civilization is important, especially since the majority of students are female.

Resources:

Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women by Sylvia Brenton Perera

“Why Women Need the Goddess” by Carol Christ

The Rebirth of the Goddess by Carol Christ

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Cunt by Inga Muscio

Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark by Sera Beak

Succulent Wild Woman: Dancing with your Wonder-Full Self by Sark

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

About Mary Reid Bogue

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