Saturday, March 10, 2012

Oh my goddesses!

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 25 February 2012)

Lately, female deities have fascinated me. Having grown up as a woman in a Christian home, I sorely felt the lack of having a female deity. I did not even know what it was that was missing for a long time, but I did know that I did not identify with the male deity worshipped by Christians.

Further, I simply did not want to identify with that male deity. I studied scripture long and hard for decades trying to change my “rebellious” views, but in the end I could not embrace a male form of God. The aggressive behaviour (the systematic killing of any tribe that didn’t worship the God of the Jews), the condescending treatment of half of the world’s population (the female half) and the demand that only that male God must be worshipped.

However, I recently discovered Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of knowledge, arts, music and science. This is one smart Goddess and this is a deity with whom I can identify and I have found that she inspires me more than any male deity ever did.

I know the very idea of me exploring female deities will rankle the ire of some of my Christian readers, but I ask that you to bear with me, friend.

You see, there are so very few female role models in the world and women need female role models.
There are male leaders everywhere – male Gods, male politicians, male business owners, male religious leaders, male everything.
There are so many male role models that women have felt they needed to emulate men to be successful because the only leaders women have had in front of them for thousands of years have been male.

But I do not want to be male-like at all. In fact, I find many male leaders to be the exact opposite of what I consider a good leader. So where does a young woman turn for a solid example of female leadership?

No, I do not consider submission to male leaders a good example of female leadership. Female leadership consists of women actively and equally participating in community leadership, religious leadership, political leadership and much more. Unfortunately, examples of this type of feminine leadership are sparse.

We are once again left with the question of where would a young woman turn for examples of feminine leadership? In today’s modern world we do have a few examples of female leaders, but only a few. However, that number is rising exponentially every single month.

I am ever on the prowl for feminine role models to trumpet and recently came across Saraswati. I was elated to find a female deity who personified knowledge since the religious environment I grew up in made it seem women were intellectual inferiors to men. Yes, this female deity is worthy of worship to me.

Furthermore, feminine deities existed thousands of years before the current patriarchal religions. One of the oldest figurines of a goddess is that of Venus of Willendorf, which is over 25,000 years old.

The fact that so many of these small hand-sized statuettes existed leads us to believe this full-figured and voluptuous female was worshipped as a fertility deity, which means Venus of Willendorf was worshipped about 20,000 years before the Judaic religions. Even Saraswati was worshipped for a very long time before the patriarchal religions.

Another female deity that has caught my eye recently is Astarte, a goddess known in many countries throughout the Eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to Classical times. I like Astarte because her name can be translated to Stella.
However, Astarte, like most other female deities, was wiped off the earth by patriarchal religions.

The Bible itself shows how the Jews went about systematically destroying all the tribes who worshipped other gods. What it doesn’t mention in great detail is that most of these other “gods” were actually goddesses.

The result – other than thousands of years of history being destroyed – is that women lost feminine religious role models. Under the patriarchal religions, women who once openly celebrated their femininity with pride were relegated to hiding behind cloaks and partitions.

Women are now forced to wear a heavy chain of “sin” around their neck because patriarchal religions say the sin of the world started with a woman.

Women who praised sexuality and fertility were made to feel guilty for their natural urges and dirty for biological functions like menstrual cycles.

After the feminine deities were destroyed by patriarchal religions, women were placed on lock down and they stayed locked down for thousands upon thousands of years.

I am not trying to convert anyone to worship female deities, but the truth has been hidden for far too long.
The world did not begin 6,000 years ago with the start of the patriarchal religions and before these religions brutally massacred the followers of the matriarchal religions, women were leaders and femininity was celebrated. That is the type of religion I want to see again.

The loss of female deities was a significant blow to the human race. When the female deities were destroyed, so was the celebration of females. Dark days (millennia, really) have followed women until this very day thanks to the patriarchal religions.

One man recently said this on Facebook, “Somehow I think the world is heading down the wrong path, empowering women at the expense of men.” I cannot help but be amused at such statements when one considers that men have been empowered at the expense of women for thousands of years.

The statement by this man and others like him is just a knee-jerk reaction to their fear of losing power while women are being empowered. Still, it seems quite obvious that if women are truly being empowered at the expense of men, since men have all the power – they can afford to give some away for the good of all.

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