Woman Soul. Close your eyes and mentally repeat those words. Woman Soul. Just thinking it brings me to my happy place. I first came across this term in “Mother Wit, A Feminist Guide to Psychic Development” (Subtitle: Exercises for Healing, Growth and Spiritual Awareness). It was written by Diane Mariechild in the early 1980’s. I have carried this book with me, off and on through the years.
To me, Woman Soul means not only an individual woman’s soul, but the souls of all women, collectively.
Woman Soul – Traveling our individual paths, while other women are doing the same
Woman Soul – Contemplating change so that women are safer the world over, as well as other endangered humans and all the creatures of the planet
Woman Soul – Working together to save Mother Earth from the indignities done to Her by man and his greed
Woman Soul – Uniting with other women who feel as you do
Woman Soul – Searching and finding the Goddess, within and without
Woman Soul – Coming together with others of like mind
Woman Soul – Realizing that you are never really alone
Woman Soul – Knowing, finally, that you are enough
Another wonderful book is “The Chalice and The Blade” by Riane Eisler. Eisler makes reference to a book called “Sex in History” by G. Rattray Taylor. In Taylor’s book, he states that history has swung between times of what Eisler calls “dominator” values, which are of a more patriarchal time, and “partnership” values, which are more “mother-identified” or “feminine” values. Eisler speaks of times throughout history when “mother-identified” or “feminine values” were ascendant; when Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne and the Renaissance are two such times. Women could own property, they had more freedom and could obtain higher education, well, if they were upper-class women, that is. Eisler asserts that when times like this appear in history, “the violent reassertion of male control is already under way”. She believes that “the most telltale signs that the pendulum is about to swing back is the revival of misogynist dogmas”, and that a “more repressive …… period of …… regression is about to set in”.
Wow. Read those words again, slowly. I read them, and then re-read them several times and then bookmarked that page in my book, by which I mean I folded down the corner.
In the 1960’s, American was turned upside down – assassinations, an unjust war, civil rights, protests, sit-in, the second wave of feminists fighting for women’s rights (we’re still waiting for the ERA, by the way). The young folks of this country decided what they wanted and didn’t want and decided to fight for it; this included women.
Women began to go back to college and choose careers over marriage and children. We won the right to contraception and abortion, with Roe vs. Wade (a struggle to this day). They began to enter politics and they wanted to have a say in what was going on in the country and in the world. It seemed as if maybe, just maybe, equal rights were here. Ah, this was a time of more “feminine values”, and women jumped at it.
Now, again, here we are, back to “the violent reassertion of male control is under way”, “misogynistic dogma”, “repressive period”. Think back to some of the more inane comments from white, conservative men about how our bodies work during “legitimate” rape and how we can shut everything down, down there. These are statements by grown men who have power!! We are once again fighting for our rights to contraception because private corporations wants to shove their religious beliefs down our throats. We live in a secular world, one where there is supposed to be a separation between church and state; make no mistake, there are those out there that do not want that separation. Again, fighting for our rights to choose what we want to do with our own bodies. Those same said white conservative men who have no idea about female bodily creativity want to tell us what to do because they, of course, know better. Domestic violence, rape, stalking, street harassment, work place harassment – they are increasing on a daily basis. Women who speak out about these things are then stalked, harassed and bullied, threatened with rape and murder. Women still do not get equal pay for equal work.
These are the misogynistic dogmas that Riane Eisler speaks of happening at different times in history. It is happening now – right now. Not just here, everywhere. We need to stop it. We need to say no. We need to never go back and if we have to take to the streets and protest, then we do that. There are those that think we are sitting back and taking it. We are not. There are feminists everywhere. Look around. The Internet is where they are meeting, getting together, mapping out strategies, getting angry.
This then becomes the catalyst for how I bring my feminist activism, as well as my Goddess Spirituality to the forefront. For me, they are intertwined.
Upon joining Facebook hell years ago, one of the first things I did was look for women of a like-mind. I was fortunate to have found many; wonderful, intelligent Goddess women, who felt as I did. Suddenly, there were women to discuss with, to debate with, to become friends with. Some of the women I am the closest to in my life are on Facebook. I am grateful for, and blessed by, each one of them.
My belief is that we are fighting the patriarchy on a global stage. We are fighting the culture/society in which we live. It’s about fighting, no longer just the status quo, but retaining what we already have that we are in danger of losing. Men are the dominant gender; they believe they were made in the image of a supreme, male God. They believe women were made to serve them, be obedient and willing. Women are taught that they are NOT made in the image of God, that they are second best, inferior, never good enough, behave at all costs, swallow your feelings, don’t be selfish, take are of others.
This is based on a book written by ONLY men over the course of thousands of years. If a man read an earlier passage that he didn’t like, he changed it. There is no truth there. Adam and Eve? How about Adam and Lilith, the actual first woman, that refused to lie beneath Adam and so was banished from the imagined Garden. This is where it starts. A passage states “Thou shalt not allow a poisoner to live”, becomes “Thou shalt not allow a witch to live”, in the King James version of the Bible because the brave King James was afraid of witches. Witches are women; so women are the ones who are killed; women are the ones to be afraid of. Women are the witches, the healers, the keepers of the Old Wisdom. Along comes the Inquisition and Witch Hunts. This has never stopped; afraid of witches, afraid of women and women’s power, and it all comes around and around again and again.
This is why the Goddess should not be separated from feminism and women’s empowerment. When women find the Goddess, they find that they ARE made in the image of the Divine, but that the Divine is a Goddess.
Continued in Part 2
Editor’s Note: This is also published in SHE RISES :How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? (Volume 2)