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Goddess in the Flesh

August 1st, 2018

It is almost impossible to meet every beauty standard. It is almost impossible for the beauty, diet and medical industries to “approve” of your body, skin, hair and eyes. In a world that deliberately shifts the “should’s” and shames that attacks and blames, loving yourself is an act of rebellion.

What is reviled in one country is celebrated in another. From skinny shaming to fat-hating what stays the same is the entitlement of male-gaze, the disgust and ownership of the female form. The idea that women are objects for public consumption is at the root of both modesty and pornography.

My mum was a fat hater and a fat-shamer. So was my dad. This meant that while I was “not pretty” I had the good grace to be thin and clever. I prized this things because both came easily to me. I can’t tell if I was an exercise addict, someone who coped with anxiety through exercise, or just very active. I would roll at of bed at dawn and do 30 sit-ups, until about the age of 17. Exercise makes me feel good, helps me focus and is something I really enjoy, though I can’t do much, if any, these days. I didn’t diet, far from it I ate a huge amount, but as a dancer I knew plenty of girls who ate tissue to not be hungry. Girls who didn’t eat for half of the school week to be “thin enough” to go out on a Friday. Fat was a mystery to me. A softness I was scared of. Still find frightening on occasion.

Fat was “weakness” and was far too vulnerable to the rough grabbing hands. No I wanted to be hard, strong and never weak. Of course I hated myself plenty. My wonky nose, crocked teeth, my ginger curly hair. Once I stopped dancing I grew breasts quickly. They came as something of a shock to me. I went from a B to a D cup in a very short time and they had their perks I was sort of mystified by this fleshier body.

As I got older, and then had children my weight was the first thing my mum would comment about.

You look fat, and not the jolly kind.”

Oh you lost weight, your face looks better.”

You are thin enough now, much skinnier you’ll look ill.”

Of course my mum was a much better feminist than I was because I had “given myself over to the yoke of motherhood” instead of doing something “more important”. My feminism was “too soft” and far too feminine and far too fat for her.

I have been all different sizes, shapes and tones and while I was more desired by men when I was thinner and more toned I have rarely been happy with myself. Rarely felt self-love or safety in my skin. I fear the toxic seep of this self-loathing for my daughter. I wonder what seeds I have sown accidentally. I have been working on loving myself for years and sometimes I feel I get there.

So how do we create real change? How do we dismantle huge industries that promote self-loathing as self-care? How do we dare to be soft when it hurts so much? How do we find our strength in body, spirit and mind? I think we must make Goddess figurines. Thousands of them, millions. Ones that are like us, as we are, not as we wish to be. Some with huge voluptuous breasts or none to speak of. Some with long legs, or no legs. With curly coils, or no hair. With lines and scars. With powerful thighs and big arses. So that we know our flesh is powerful and beautiful and important. That we are worthy, fat, scarred, skinny and all. For in reclaiming our image as beautiful, as sacred art maybe we will love ourselves just a little bit more.

I’m part of a lot of spiritual groups and on one of them someone posted this.

Well I had a lot to say, because I feel like that gender (which is more complicated than a binary) is absolutely important to talk about. I am never comfortable when someone says we should talk about something. Silence has a very specific power.

My main issue with this is one group or part of the gender spectrum have had the power, privilege and control of everything, including spirituality for thousands of years. We cannot “white wash” this out of spirituality. When you fail to acknowledge this privilege, the differences, difficulties and discrimination that happens, you add to it. There are more than two genders. Yet pretending gender doesn’t have a bias, that wider societies and cultures doesn’t hugely favour one over everything else is wrong. You are ignoring the problem. I liken this to when privileged white people (like me) say “I don’t see colour”. It effectively erases the thing about a person or group you have and historically have issues with. It is literally removing the part of a person or groups identity. It also allows passive discrimination, bias and abuse to occur.

Spirituality can never be divorced from society. The body politic, if you will. That is why privilege always comes in. We cannot ignore the bias towards certain groups or genders. Ignoring what is happen in a larger cultural context doesn’t make it more spiritual. Spiritual is an expression of the sacred authenticity of people. It always has a cultural context. In real life terms this means folks whom are non-binary, trans, LGBTQ+ or female are going to suffer more discrimination, abuse than those not. From harassment to income, to insurance and medical care, one group significantly is more secure, more safe, and better off.

This has an effect. From spiritual courses requiring money and travel to not having a bathroom you can use, it will have an impact. This totally removes the right of those suffering to say anything if there “is no gender”. It robs them of their identity and silences them to the difficulties and joys about their lives that make them unique.

We, spiritual and pagan people should care and recognize gender, in all its diversity. We should care because we should be advocating, creating spaces and being aware that being different is beautiful and a strength.

Spirituality is not passive or weak. Kindness and inclusivity is a strength, it is courageous.

I don’t know, what I don’t know. However I am open to listening. Listening to trans, non-binary and gender fluid people as well as the scores of women around me.

I am aware that the patriarchal hangovers and wider social norms creep into our lives often without us seeing them. There is a darker more insidious message in this short post though. Setting up the Christian dichotomy of “spirit as good and body is bad” that has been used to torture and abuse millions for thousands of years. This body verses spirit things exactly plays to these problems with body politics and gender issues. It robs people of their loving divine connection to their bodies and lives. It villainises healthy sexual desire, normal bodily function, and the power of the physical world. It divorces and stigmatizes the powerful animal instincts that dwell within.

The “animal” within is not a malign influence that must be erased or destroyed or caged. Doing so removes a deep and divine force within. If it is respected and held in balance it is wise. If it is repressed or caged it reacts like any caged wild animal would. Of course if it runs riot we become less, diminishing any part of the whole makes us less. We are instinct and intellect. We are our desires and our ability to wait or let them go. We can dwell within desire, be it sexual, hunger or rage, acknowledge them and not act. Yet unless you learn to respect and listen this animal side will act out. Repressing parts of ourselves (usually out of shame) is deeply damaging and not spiritual.

It might look like it from the outside. It might look saint-like and perfect but it just isn’t authentic to a whole person. Now some folks are wolf-spirited, some are more like deer, or lions or elephants. It is not my place to tell anyone what their inner animal must be. Or their gender. Or sexuality.

Yet I will honour them. I will make space, and listen, most of all listen. I will acknowledge my position of relative privilege as a white bi-sexual female that people are more understanding or accepting of me in certain places than people whom are differently gendered. I will speak up and stand up to the injustices and intolerance. I will bridge my ignorance with kindness and recognition.

 

 

The Naked Goddess

 

(Last month’s cover of PaganPageOrg, Goddess by Angie Yelton At FalconFire Ceramics Studio)

 

The censoring of female Goddess bodies is apparently not a new thing. While Greek and Roman Gods had their genitals lovingly crafted, in all shapes, ages and sizes, there is no hint of a cleft on the white marble. It symbolises the Greek, then later Roman idea that women must (especially in public) be silent. While this silence of your vulvic voice is not new, taboo is always, always drawn from something powerful and sacred. At least to James Frazier.

 


Greece bronze-age culture seems to be the turning point from the Minoan, Egyptian and other Goddess cultures. Before that Goddess were made in their multitude. Yet the context is differs. The observer is trying to express something, and while some are nude and some are not they lack the objectifying gaze. When you look at a Greek Goddess statue they are posed not to be observed, but objectified. There is a pornography, almost predatory quality to how these women are designed to be viewed. In stark contrast the snake grasping Goddess or priestess from the Minoan culture whom is bare breasted gazes out defiant, triumphant even. This is the context. The difference between observing, bearing witness to the power of the female form and leering at it.

 


This “pornifcation” of the body, of nakedness, especially female nakedness is even more apparent in the modern internet age. It comes from those whom are in power or powerful positions within Instagram and Facebook judging images and only being able to view images of female bodies through this lens. Nakedness is not inherently sexual. Those observing seem to lack the ability to tell the difference between images observing female stories and bodies (even Goddesses) and the objectifying frame of pornography.

 


Pornography does not have to be nude to be pornography. It is designed to arouse and stimulate a sexual response. In fact near nakedness, or its illusion is a key trait in some pornography. It is more titillating to almost see something than to see it. So much of our media is at least tinted with this toxic view point. Again context is key.

 


Much of this stems from tech industries really struggling with these concepts and a failure to see something fundamental. Something so simple and true it seems obvious: women are people.

 


This idea that women are not cattle to be bought and sold is still radical in some places. Yet in the West we like to think we are enlightened while simultaneously eroding their humanity. You can be strong, independent and fierce, as long as you attractive. In cool, absolutely. Were they gorgeous?

 

Without a doubt. Was it the point? Not in the slightest. They were (ironically) more like those Minoan figures, breasts bared holding the snakes aloft.
The female nipple, her menses, Divine Goddess nude or otherwise are part of our story, our lives and in erasing them is part of the problem. We must mould our digital Goddesses as they were once made out of clay. With hips and breasts, in all shapes, ages and colours, with scars and lions. We must not let them silencer words “be what you like, so long as titillates me to watch you do it”.

 

 

(Goddess of Willendorf)

 

This is why Wonder Woman was such a revelation to me. That gaze was absent. It was the observer, not the objectifier who held the camera, told the story. It didn’t care how “pretty” the Amazons were while they were running screaming into battle. Was it e us, because they know the vulva speaks.

 

Going Shamanic” is hosted by Jennifer Engracio on P.A.G.E.  Media Project’s blogtalk radio each month. The show focuses on how to integrate shamanism into every day life. Instead of relegating the spiritual aspect of ourselves to Sundays at church or weekend workshops, this show will support listeners in weaving ritual, prayer, magic, alignment with the Spiritworld and the Earth into their lives to enrich their experience of living.

This Month’s Topic: Sister & Brotherhood Circles with Lori’ and Phil Nelson

On this episode, Jen welcomes Lori’ Black Cave Dreamer and Phil Eagle Song, both certified shamanic practitioners.

There is a need in our society for women and men to gather with others of their same sex to share and to learn more about what it means to be a whole man or a whole woman. This show talks about what the differences are between women and men and why Sisterhood and Brotherhood Circles are such an important support for communities on the planet.

Going Shamanic is hosted by Jennifer Engrácio, about how to integrate shamanism into everyday life.

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic practitioner, Reiki Master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Judging Women Ourselves & Others

One of the things that stand out for me in the everyday world is how women judge themselves, and other women, so harshly.

It happens between friends when one is unintentionally hurt by the words of others. In a friendship, for the most part, although there are exceptions, no one ever wants to hurt the other, but it happens. You apologize and, with hope, move forward.   

Stop a moment and think about how much and how often we judge others; those we know, and more often, those we do not know.  This is especially prevalent in women; women judging ourselves and women cruelly judging other women.  We do it; we ALL do it, even those who believe we are enlightenedand feminist in our thinking, whether we wish to admit it to ourselves or not.

I am of the opinion that this is the way this patriarchal culture, this male-dominated society, has trained us to be so.  I am not going to go into the many wrongs done to women and to people of color by a white-male privileged society, not here anyway and not yet (fair warning).  This is more to the way women are trained from birth to judge and to distrust other women.

It would appear that the most important thing any female can do in this culture is to find a man, keep him, marry him and raise a family.  We are told this continually, we see it daily in movies, on TV, in books (for those fortunate enough to love to read).  This is the life we are trained for.  Little girls get toy vacuums, little plastic kitchens, tea sets; we are the ones who are taught to set the table, clean the house, do the chores, and maybe get taught how to cook, at least the basics.  As we grow older, we shave the unwanted hair on our bodies, make ourselves up like kewpie dolls, all in the name of getting a man”.  

(Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash)

As we look around at the men available to us, the women who should be our friends, our allies, somehow become our enemies, our rivals, in the getting of a man.  So, we look at them.  What do they have that I dont have?  What color is their hair?  Are they fat?  Are they thin?  Who looks at them and who looks at me?  We slowly begin to judge ourselves how do we stack up compared to them.  Media and culture being what it is, we NEVER come out on top.  There is something wrong with us, because we are TOLD something is wrong with us.   We begin to judge the other women.  If we are not perfect, then neither are they.  This does not make us sympathetic to them because we can relate; this makes us judge them even more harshly.  It becomes shes ugly”, shes so fat, shes easy, whatever the hell that might be.  The names being “fatso”, “slut”, “whore”, bitch”.  How often do the mean girlsstop and think about how they may feel if these words were hurled at them in hatred?  Unfortunately, words like this are said by even those who are not considered the mean girls and it continues into adulthood. When women, themselves, judge each other, see each other as “enemies”, how hard does patriarchy need to work to put us down? Not very hard as we put ourselves down.

This, I believe, is one of the biggest problems faced by feminism, and, really, it does not matter if you are a radical feminist, or a liberal feminist or anything in between because we are all affected. Seriously, how do you get a woman raised to believe they are second-best, inferior, not-good-enough, to get rid of the judging, get rid of the distrust and band together, stand together to fight the status quo?  

I don’t pretend to have the answer, but I believe it starts by teaching little girls they are valuable, they are worthy, they are important.  We teach them that the Divine once was, and still is, a woman.  We continue this dialogue that has already begun, with each and every woman we meet in real life and online.  We create sacred circles of women to stand together and be strong and TEACH each younger generation of women what is right and what has been wrong for so, so long in the treatment of women and it has to change and it has to begin, and continue, with women.

***

About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

Click Image for Amazon Information

LILITH

(Painting by John Collier – Source: Wikipedia)

When my children were small, I was good friends with a woman whose birth family practiced Orthodox Judaism. We had known each other many years, our children were close and we had each been to many family gatherings. One summer, we were attending a pool party at her house and her parents were in attendance. I went to say hello to her father and then asked him about Lilith, as the first wife of Adam. His response was to look at me, say nothing, then turn to walk away. He never really spoke to me much afterward.

THAT is the power of Lilith.

Who was the powerful woman? Was she a demon? Was she a woman that refused to be subservient to a man? Did she leave Eden on her own? Was she kicked out?

Her origins seems to be rooted in Babylonian demonology. In Sumerian, her name comes for “lilitu”, which means “female demon” or “wind spirit”.

In the Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh, the hero (Gilgamesh) goes to help the Goddess Inanna, who was being beset by demons, one of which was Lilith. This part of the tale was added some 600 years after the original.

(Source: YouTube)

In Jewish tradition, Lilith is a dark demon, but others see her as a dark Goddess, but either way, she is ancient and powerful. In the Talmud, she was described as being sexually wanton and the stealer of men’s sperm from which she gave birth to demons. The Talmud, the book of civil and ceremonial law, states, “It is forbidden for a man to sleep alone in a house, lest Lilith get hold of him”.

It is in the Genesis Rabba, religious texts with rabbinical interpretations of Genesis, that we first hear of Lilith as the first woman, created at the same time as Adam.

Adam demanded that she life beneath him and she refused. Adam wanted her to be subservient to him and she refused. She stated, “We are equal because we are both created from the earth.”

(Photo Source: The Lilith Library)

This myth was added to book “The Alphabet of Ben Sira”, which added that Lilith then fled into the desert. Adam complains to God that the woman that was given to him has left. Three angels are sent after her. The angels tell her that she must return but she refuses and says, strangely, that she knows that she was made to harm children, but that if she sees the names of these angels on amulets, then that child will be saved.

Some would say that when she refused to lie beneath Adam, that she was turned into a demon, a succubus, and banished from Eden. For some, she became a sacred whore, beautiful, dangerous, who would seduce men and kill them.

Eve was then created from Adam’s rib, making her made from him, submissive to him and would lie beneath him.

She has been an influence in literary characters, such as in “The Coming of Lilith” by Judith Plaskow, among many other stories, novels and poems. It is said that C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia”, that the White Witch was influenced by Lilith. There is the Lilith Faire, which raises money for battered women’s shelters and breast cancer awareness.

Girl God Publications has the “My Name is……” series, written for children, where Goddesses who have been demonized, have their stories told in a positive, affirmative manner. The third in this series is “My Name is Lilith“, by Monette Chilson, which I highly recommend.

(Photo: Amazon)

Lilith has become an icon for feminists who see her refusal to lie beneath Adam as a call to freedom, a rallying cry to break away from the bonds of

patriarchy.

She can be looked to for inspiration in being and accepting who we are – strong, empowered, independent women, making our own choices and living the lives we choose.

Blessings!

***

About the Author:

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, “Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and “Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess”, as well as Mago Publications “She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Women’s Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

My Name is Isis: The Egyptian Goddess

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