I didn’t find Goddess; Goddess found me. At first I didn’t understand Her call; the dreams, visions, and flashes of Goddess started as random moments of Divinity and, over time, permeated my heart and soul, yet I was absolutely unsure how She got there. The Christian Father God had also dwelt in my soul at one point, but that was because I had actively sought Him out in my youth and chosen to invite Him in. Now there was a Holiness present inside me that I didn’t seek out, a Divine manifestation who just appeared one day during a meditation; and who, eventually, required my complete attention. At the time, when I was merely an adherent and daughter of Goddess, I didn’t understand the why, the how, or even why I was left with this alarming and magnificent feeling that She chose me. My questions would be answered once I started studying Goddess at university. What I discovered was how Goddess came to be at the centre of my being—permeating my entire life. What I didn’t expect was to find Carl Gustav Jung at the heart of it all.
Best known as the father of analytical psychology, the New Age movement, and Charismatic Christianity, Carl Jung was passionate about reclaiming a sacred feminine part of our psyches that the patriarchal Christian fathers tried to destroy during both the purge and the Age of Reason. Jung believed that the West had lost something the East had held on to—the mystical aspect of life—our connection to intuition, empathy, to each other, and to nature was cut, and Jung was determined to make Western man and woman realise that they had lost the very centre of their psyche and their Self. Jung offered the West his ‘Angel of Light’ in Goddess as their salvation.[i]
The first woman to take Jung’s theories about the lost Goddess and apply them to women was Dr. M. Esther Harding in 1935 with her book Woman’s Mysteries. Harding created a psychology for women by women based on Jung’s theories; but what was more important was that Harding introduced American women (and men) to Goddess and spoke of the importance of reclaiming Her power. The second wave of feminism in the US in the 1960s and 1970s saw the explosion of Jung’s revised ideas, and Goddess was waking more and more people. In 1984 Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen wrote the ground-breaking Goddesses in Everywoman and introduced the public to Jung’s Angel of Light—the Great Mother (Anima Mundi) archetype. A great number of writers at the time such as Erich Neumann, E.C. Whitmont, Sylvia Perera, Christine Downing, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Joseph Campbell, Sue Monk Kidd, Phyllis Curott, and Naomi R Goldenberg were all writing about the Jungian Goddess and the need to incorporate Her into our hearts, minds, and soul. Goddess was truly alive.
It took me years to unravel and reconstruct Jung’s original theories and models, and then another stretch of time to really understand several threads of post-Jungian feminist revision including Goddess Feminism and Goddess Consciousness before I could truly grasp the matter at the heart of it all—the question that haunted me. Jung proposes that Goddess (as an Archetype) can act independently from within our unconscious and grab our conscious attention at will. In other words, Goddess holds the power to seize your attention, springing into your mind and soul, bringing Herself to full powerful glory within the one and the many as She will. It took me years of study to realise that She did, in fact, choose me.
People react differently to Her call. Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of Goddess is that there exists a variety of paths to the same destination, and all are respected and welcome. My understanding of Goddess, and my path, are mine alone, but as someone who believes in the importance of studying the psychological causes and effects of Goddess, my path is one of psychodynamics, myth, and post-Jungian theory. When Goddess is understood as the immanent Divine proposed by Jung almost a century ago, it means that Goddess brings Herself into consciousness and demands our attention, but it also means that, eventually, She, too, has to be incorporated and unseated as the centre of one’s Self. From a psychodynamic perspective, when Goddess is allowed to manifest Herself uncontrolled in one’s psyche and completely take over one’s personae, there can be negative psychological ramifications. It is a path that must be taken with great care and armed with some crucial knowledge to navigate it successfully. Jung’s path is a long-term path of psychological deconstruction of the Self that leads to union with Goddess, but it is not a path that should be trodden lightly or without first gaining some specialised knowledge in analytical psychology or entering analysis with a Jungian therapist. It is crucial to have someone or access to someone who can guide you through the process allowing you to make the transition in a positive and healthy environment where support is extended, and you can move forward at your own pace.
For me, Goddess isn’t just a religious or spiritual event and process, it is also a psychological one. Through my years at university, Jungian and post-Jungian theory has permeated everything I do both academically and personally as Priestess and Pagan Minister. My path to Goddess has been a convoluted one; it is a path that has taken many turns, sometimes turning myself around completely, and it always has led me in ways I could never have dreamed of. I still hear Her voice inside me, guiding me in times in doubt, supporting me in times of crisis, and asking me to continue to be Her troubadour and sing Her songs. She dwells within me and guides me; She connects me to all that is through the web She weaves. She led me to quantum mechanics and to an understanding of the world we live in from a magical and scientific level; fully aware of our connection to, and dependence upon, every vital life force around us. She has led me beyond my Self to a path that has shaped my being and my life. She has led me to a sacred and honoured place where I now serve as midwife to the birth of others’ conscious awakenings. I have learned to enter into dialogue with Her through ritual, guided meditations, dance, and drumming. Whether I call her Goddess, Mother, the Morrigan, Inanna, or Freya, She is ever-present, regardless of how I image her in my own mind—a fundamental part of me that empowers me and emboldens me, guides me, and comforts me. She is my Angel of Light; She is Goddess, and this is my path.
[i] CG Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Second Edition. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968 Bollingen Series XX), 29.
Editor’s Note: This is also published in SHE RISES :How Goddess Feminism, Activism, and Spirituality? (Volume 2)