Goddesses everywhere await your worship

February 21, 1999|By Susan Reimer

I UNDERSTAND THAT the so-called "goddess movement" is sweeping west from California, the modern Fertile Crescent of wacky spiritual notions, and I can't wait until it gets to my neighborhood.

A mix of feminism, ecology and New Age spiritualism, the goddess movement is more than Christianity in drag. It is a celebration of women as the center of life, the source of healing and moral authority -- very appealing to those of us who can't seem to compete with the television for our family's attention.

But worshipers of the goddess say she is no Mrs. Butterworth. She can be a fierce warrior. And this duality -- the giver of life and the protector of it -- is as good an explanation as any when you are dismissed by your mate as being in the middle of another mood swing. Goddesses are not irritable.

Worship of the goddess is a system of beliefs, not an organized religion with churches and scheduled services. And that suits me just fine because I don't need another place I have to be. Why wrestle your family out the door every Sunday morning when everyone can sleep late and worship you at home?

The downside of this, of course, is that every day would have to be Sunday for goddess worshipers, and getting anything that looks like reverence from kids is tough enough one day out of seven. The fact that they could worship you while wearing jeans and a T-shirt instead of the hated church clothes would not be enough of an incentive, I fear.

The goddess movement has been criticized for celebrating Eve for her gutsy grab for the apple, symbol of knowledge and wisdom, instead of vilifying her as a disobedient daughter whose only bequest to us is the shame of nakedness and the pain of childbirth.

I applaud this revisionist history. If ever a gal was in need of a new look, it is Eve. I mean, original sin? A tad noir, n'est pas? I've always thought the Garden of Eden story line was a little too familiar: Adam's out of pocket, she makes a decision without him, it goes -- OK -- badly, and she never lives it down.

What goddess worship is not, is hags around a caldron. Goddess worship is not Halloween. It is not Medea. It is not Carrie.

Its stone tablets, according to those who write about it, read something like this: "Do as you like, but do no harm." "What you send out into the world returns to you threefold."

These precepts are very familiar to women, who long ago adapted them to family life. As in, "Quit before somebody gets hurt." And, "How would you like it if someone did that to you?"

Goddess worship is a natural haven for disillusioned women of the Catholic Church, which has a rich history of elevating women who cheerfully endure rape and murder but stubbornly refuses to ordain women, in spite of a shrinking labor pool, for a management position.

And goddess worship is a solution for the vexing shortness of Mother's Day. A handful of cards and brunch with the kids holds little appeal for us goddesses. We're looking for 24-7, and only a full-fledged religion is going to get it done.

Goddess spirituality is a search for the core of your femininity -- and I am not talking Laura Ashley or April Cornell here -- and celebrating your feminine nature as something divine. If you want to know what the goddess looks like, followers will tell you, look in the mirror.

I like that idea. It sure beats looking for signs of age.

Pub Date: 02/22/99

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