Thursday, 25 October 2012

Being a Goddess in the 21st Century – What does it mean?

  In the past couple of years a lot of “hype” has been made about the word Goddess. For each and every person it has its own cords which resonate within them. But what in essence does it mean for each and every individual?
For every person the word Goddess has a different and unique meaning. 

  To some it has a purely religious meaning a figure to be revered or feared, to others the word Goddess conjures up images of esoteric mysticism. And then there are those who understand and acknowledge that it is the sacred and divine female aspect of our selves. Everything in life has been created with two opposing poles, the Yin and Yang, Male and Female. 
 
  There is a sacredness and interconnectedness between these two forces, and as we who are making this journey in a female form RE-member this, it is important to celebrate this magnificent divinity within ourselves. But before we look at this aspect within ourselves let us look at the history and mythology of woman that has been ignored and distorted through centuries of patriarchy.

  The spiritual journey of Earth’s people began with the idea of a goddess, universally called The Great Mother. We know that thousands of years before the Bible was ever recorded creation stories centred around a goddess. The reverence and incredible respect our ancestors once felt for the primal power of the female is reflected in those dimly lit times of the pre-historic ages when the power to give and nurture was supreme. It is only as recent as 6000 year ago, for as we know 6000 years ago is recent in the age of human kind, has the earth and the female perspective been ignored. As we are moving into the dawning of a new age a growing number of people are looking back to the past through woman’s spirituality to find new visions for the future.

  To remember the eternal rhythms, they draw strength from the creation of their own goddesses. Today we build tall monuments to that which we call progress like for instance the Twin Towers or Eiffel Tower, a progress that threatens all life forms. Millions live by it and the conqueror has replaced the nurturer as a symbol to be respected. The natural world we once revered we now destroy, we have long forgotten the spirit of the earth goddess. 
 
  Women have always gathered together, 40 000 years ago our ancestors of the western world, arrived in Southern France, they were hunters and gatherers wandering in small and peaceful groups, formed around mothers, dependent upon one another for survival. Locked away in caves deep in the earth are wondrous cave paintings they left behind, which could be reached only by crawling for hours through narrow tunnels and past dangerous ledges, perhaps this perilous journey symbolise the dangers of the hunt, or perhaps it was a place close to the heart of the earth goddess for these people. Over thousands of years countless generations returned to these caves to add their mark. In a cave in South Western France one of the oldest existing sculptures of human form was found, the sculpture being that of a woman, archaeologists have dated the sculpture back to 35 000 years BC. 
 
  The stone-age woman probably started having children during puberty, the sharing bond between mother and child was at the centre of clan life. They roamed long distances learning the secrets of the earth, drawing nourishment and medicine from the plants. The female was often honoured in pre-historic art, the miracle of birth and substance offered by her body, the bleeding that came and went with the changing of the moon; she was magical like the goddess earth. Tens of thousands of female figurines have been unearthed from the stone-age whereas figures of the male were fewer in number. After following the source of food from place to place, around 10 000 BC people began to cultivate, the agricultural revolution changed everything, and especially the harmonious relationship we had to the earth. No longer did people accept what was provided by the earth, now we sought to control and wield the awesome powers of the natural world.

  These people have vanished but from China to old Europe they have left us their strange standing stones, such as Stonehenge. Enigmatic and still today we can only guess as to their real meaning and purpose. But their placement does suggest that they were placed there to trace the moon. Satellite sites now reveal that they all stand on energy lines that criss cross the earth. Stones have always been seen as reservoirs of power. In pre-historic times the serpent was seen as a symbol of healing and prophecy and was always associated with goddess religions as these were times when woman still shared the centre of civilisation. A matriarchal culture is one where woman has a place of honour and respect and that does not mean domination, the men and woman in these cultures in olden Europe were buried in almost the same way, the woman had placed with her a little more stuff but nothing like the patriarchal chieftain system later on where one man owned woman and other men and horses and other things. It was also never a society that used to put men down in order to elevate woman, there was just a humble reverence of the bountiful powers of mother earth and the bountiful powers of the female.
  Moving to a different part of the world, on a small island in the Mediterranean are the oldest known remains of an ancient goddess worship culture, they fished as they do today, the island people of Malta. The eyes of the goddess, on their boats still guide them safely into the sheltering harbour. Around 7 000 years ago the first raising of crops was done with hand tools probably done by woman. For we know that woman developed agriculture. The clay houses of these ancient peoples of Malta have been washed away but their temples remain. Long before the civilisation of Egypt, these temples were carved out of the monumental stone in the shape of their female deity. The sick found comfort in the temples, it was a place of healing, a place of community. It was also the place of oracle, a sacred place where one could hear the voice of the priestess, the ancient healer who gave prediction and comfort. It is believed today by the people of Malta that the goddess can be found in everything and always represents Mother Earth. In these temples they have also found drawings and representation of the Tree of Life. The way that it is interpreted is that the tree was the medium between Mother Earth and man and the branches coming out of the tree represents a life span which is connected to one another which shows a continuity of life.
  Ancient texts record that a goddess known as A-set was the oldest of the old “She Who Knows All”, the Chinese called her Quan Yin, she was known by many names; Eye of Heaven, Guardian of the Justice and Truth of the Universe, She who gave the unalterable Laws of Life. It was she who invented the stylus so that words could be recorded, she who invented numbers so that sheaves could be measured.
  We can always draw parallels with the ancient goddesses when we look back at our own lives, for instance if you love the outdoors, looking at the stars and feeling one with nature you will find that you feel a great affinity with Artemis* and her strengths. In every culture, links to earlier beliefs are revealed through customs, myths and celebrations. The Dance of Life around the maypole is done all over the world. Today in Mexico at the great Basilica they honour the Virgin Mary; they dance where once there stood a temple to an ancient goddess, the people used to bring her round cakes just before the rains came. Although the surroundings are Christian the ceremony goes back through the millennia to an ancient world. In certain parts of the world today Shamans are mostly woman who still carry on thousands of years of tradition.
  A thought that many of us have forgotten is that we are ancestors of tomorrow and that which we say and do can be remembered thousands of years from now just as it has been in pre-historic times and even in our own recent history. When we think of it like that no tiny act will ever become meaningless. We will live on through our children and grandchildren and so on. The knowledge that we are able to pass on this knowledge of how we survive and how to keep the spirit and the body whole, our relationship between each other and the earth and that is the tradition that we keep alive.

Goddess from the Soulscapes Tarot by Jade Ashcroft
  Deep in the English country side is Sillbury Hill the largest pre-historic structure in the modern world and it was not built by slaves but by generations of people using deer antlers as their picks. It took them 400 years but it has stood for 4 000. In recent centuries treasure seekers have thought it to be the burial site of an important warrior king and his hoards of gold but they have found nothing and so it conceals nothing. It is the earth goddess for all to see. Just a stone throw from Sillbury Hill there are several pre-historic monuments to ancient times, the great ceremonial circles of Avery and Stonehenge, places where the goddess reigned supreme.
  Even here in Africa we have reference to ancient goddesses but she is still worshiped in many parts as Yameya, Afrikete, Oyo, Mabulisa, dark reservoirs of strength and female power. In a lot of these cultures as well as pre-historic you will find that there was never different levels of importance, everything, thing, God, man, animals and plants were regarded as holy and spiritual.
  Moving to yet another part of the world where archaeologists were dumbfounded by the amazing discoveries they unearthed on Crete, they had achieved great feats of engineering, they tracked the starts, and they kept written records. Unlike other civilisations of their time the city states of Crete lived in co-operation and harmony. Their customs, laws and wealth supported in the general well-being of all life. There is no evidence of male or female dominance. The women were legendary herbalists, healers and midwives, they were merchants, sailors, chariot drivers, farmers, and they were equal to the men. Today’s scientific theory that all living matter of the earth forms one interconnected life system goes hand in hand with ancient Minoan Crete beliefs, for our oneness with each other and nature lied at the heart of the goddess worship.
  Moving forward in time and closer to recent times history books call it the dawn of civilisation, for the man it was the beginning for the woman it was the beginning of the end. The Greeks announced that history would now begin and proceeded to obliterate or pervert the 25 000 years that had gone before. Athena was redefined, once the goddess of love and wisdom, she now became the goddess of war, the violent and the erotic became linked as they had never been before. Man, said man had always been the natural master of the Earth; he was now also the pro-creator, Athena now sprang fully armoured from the brow of Zeus, Eve was created from the rib of Adam and the female inferiority forever was proclaimed by the book of Genesis. And don’t believe that woman just accepted these beliefs. There were pockets of these woman who rose up and thus was formed the legends and myths of the Amazons. We now have civilisations that are celebrating war. They are antagonistic towards natural death but creating massive death through warfare all the time and this is where we live today.
  There are many was to pay homage to the wonders of creation and to discover the fullness of what is means to be human. There are things to be remembered, for 35 000 years our ancestors found power in unity and co-operation. If we listen to the echo’s they have much to say. We have completely forgotten our own worth and strength. We are goddess each and every woman on this planet and it is up to you to reclaim your inner wisdom and strength.
  One of the messages that we can claim for ourselves are the words “Know Thyself”. How many of us do? We have lost pieces of ourselves being wives, mothers, daughters, lovers, girlfriends, and in the end it is up to each and every single one of us to remember “Know Thyself”.
  It is up to each and every one of us to remember who we are, what passions once coursed through our veins, what we longed for, what we believe in, even something as intricate as what we like. So many of us when you take away our careers, husbands, children, cleaning and everything else we attach ourselves too, have no idea of who we really are. 
 
  It is here where I attempt to create a space for woman to get together once a month to celebrate things that are happening in their lives or in the lives of their children or family. And it is our creativity, it is our expression of who we are, how we feel and how we relate to the earth and the people we love. 
 
  The teachings that we hear today about our own worth and what we believe woman to be are very different from the messages that are given to us by the media and society. We know that we as woman are strong and gifted but society is telling us that we are meek and lowly. But so very often woman have forgotten that innate magnificence that is lying dormant in the pit of her belly. 
 
  And this is my aim at my monthly Inner Goddess Awakenings, for the woman to RE-ignite, RE-member, RE-connect and RE-discover their very own instinctual selves. 
 
  The workshops that I hold always have a different theme and many of our sessions held in the afternoons are spent under the magnificent African sun, for so many decades woman have felt uncomfortable in their own skins. The picture of the “perfect woman” that is being sold by the media has aimed the focus the attention solely on outer appearances. Women have been transformed into superficial beings striving on a daily basis to look the “correct” way and to please those around them. We have come to a point that woman so often sacrifice their own happiness and self-esteem in order to try and fulfil this “perfect picture” of what a male dominated world thinks that she should be.
  The workshops are run from the most amazing venue called Thymeless Tings situated right in the Cradle of Humankind in Johannesburg, South Africa and boasts a waterfall and soothing and refreshing rock pools right on the property. The idea behind this unique venue is recycle and up-cycle and hold an important lesson for its customers, beauty can be found in everything.
  The workshops are a space for ladies to come and be themselves, to create, connect and discover their unique selves again. A place where they feel safe to share and explore all the different facets about themselves. To clear out old baggage they have been carrying with them for so long. To look back on their journey and to be celebrated for how far they have some. To start the healing process, and to guide woman along their own journey of spiritual awakening to their own divine inner goddess.