I love this question: “How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality?” These are continuing threads woven throughout my daily life. I weave these threads through midwifery, the arts, scholarship, and writing, and especially as the mother of two daughters. In spiral-movements, I yearn for integration of all aspects of my life, seeking connection of inner and outer worlds, body, mind, and spirit. I say “spiral movements” because I love spirals. They are such a dynamic, ancient Goddess symbol of the life force and awakening growth. Spirals express fluid transformations and regeneration of all through large and small cycles of life on Earth. Goddess spirituality is my way to live from the knowledge that there is no division between the sacred and the profane. In these still patriarchal times, with ignorance of our human depths and capabilities, and ongoing devastations of war, violence, and loss of ecology, “How Goddess” is my spiral journey of making-sacred. I follow my divine yearning through activism, sisterhood, healing, scholarship, and mothering.
Midwifery spiral: Witnessing a home birth as a teenager, I quickly leaped into the re-birth of midwifery in 1980s North America. Midwifery was the genesis of my awakening to the hidden power of women, Goddesses, and healing. Attending mothers giving birth, midwives held wise and loving spaces for their vital labours. Hidden powers are definitely the scope of goddesses, and midwifery! Goddesses, like birth-power, have been hidden or ignored over millennia through patriarchal culture and male god-concepts. Women giving birth are an expression of the divine life force, which is Goddess herself. It took me many years to articulate this, to be able to link women’s loss of birth-power with the loss of female spiritual authority, goddess- and Earth-consciousness (see: https://magoism.net/2014/03/17/essay-1-nane-jordan/) .
Through natural birth, women follow their internal sense of birth-giving rather than having this dictated to them by external technologies and authoritative caregivers. Women need a safe and loving space in which to do this. I experienced over and over how the force of birth released women to themselves—raw and uncensored. Giving birth, women surrender to an innate and generative power, experiencing combinations of overwhelming pain, sensation, and ecstasy. Walking the line between life and death, this is what makes birth such a fearful, yet potent life experience. The arrival of a baby into his/her mother’s arms is birth’s ecstatic gift of life, and should not be interfered with—this moment belongs to the mother, baby, and father/other-mother themselves. Healing is even possible for aspects of women’s lives beyond birth. Healing was something I experienced in holding and caring for women and babies, which was like holding and caring for myself. Supporting the release of the mothers’ love hormone, oxytocin, during birth-giving, supports this experience in one’s own life and society at large. Honouring and protecting the very real, physiologic mother-baby bond, during and after birth, this is Goddess activism—the circulation of LOVE itself!
Ancient mother spiral: I was sucked in like a magnet when I first saw archaeologist-folklorist Marija Gimbutas’ book, Language of the Goddess. Her uncovering and interpretation of ancient female icons, symbolic inscriptions, and sacred places spoke to me at a visceral level. Here was a world I knew in my cellular memory, and Gimbutas was reclaiming its lost stories. All the pain, fear, and degradation of being female, of being ignored or not central, was peeled away to expose the female source at the roots of human life on Earth, in the language of the Goddess. In this way, Gimbutas vindicated what I had experienced in attending births. Women were central to life and its meaning. We could re-claim more joyful ways of life, and a culture of celebration that loves and lives in reciprocity with Mother Earth.
Women’s circles spiral: I thus discovered “How Goddess” and the sacred feminine was and is out there in women themselves. I have attended and led various forms of women’s spirituality and Goddess circles from the 1990s onwards. We called in the four directions, created blessings, sang songs, and shared about our lives through storytelling. We honoured the phases and journeys of women’s lives. We blessed houses and pregnant mothers. We sang, drummed, cried, laughed, danced, and heard each other to speech. My friends and I would basically make things up, as well as studying from books and teachers in the field. I took affordable workshops with those wonderful, educational hallmarks of the goddess movement—beloved teacher-leaders travelling around the country in the 1980s and 1990s. In this way, I learned from Vicki Noble and Starhawk when they came through town. These women were travelling priestesses, bringing the Goddess news to all corners of North America.
Attending and creating women’s circles was a truly centring aspect of “how” I brought Goddess feminism and spirituality into my life and that of others. I became part of a planning team for a large, yearly multi-faith gathering called the “Women’s Spirituality Celebration” in Vancouver, Canada. I used to think I needed to be somewhere else to be “really” doing this work, as if only famous teachers were bona fide. In hindsight, I was in the midst of making it happen with others. Goddess spirituality has been such a hidden and emergent tradition. We’ve had to recover and uncover so much in our knowledge and practices. It can be hard to know when we are on or off the path. In fact, we are making and walking this path, drawing from resources and research to create what we need, learning what does and doesn’t work. I love this balance of learning and knowing, while unfolding my mystical sense.
This essay series was written in response to the question, “How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality?” I love and appreciate this question, and the chance to articulate and share some of my story. I hope it may be of benefit to others. I envision “How Goddess” in my life as a weaving of spiral movements. Spirals are dynamic, ancient Goddess symbols of the life force and awakening growth. They express fluid transformations and the regeneration of all. In a spiral way, I yearn for integration of all aspects of my life In Part 1, I explore Goddess feminism, activism, and spirituality through the living spirals of midwifery, ancient mothers, and women’s circles.
To be continued.
[Editors’ Note: This essay is from She Rises: How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? Volume 2 (Mago Books, forthcoming 2016).]