Friday, July 9, 2010

Celebrating the Divine Feminine

In the ancient world the Divine Feminine, or Goddess, was often portrayed in three aspects: maiden, mother, and old woman. We live in a very different world today, but it is worth looking at these three aspects because they are still important stages in a woman's life -- even though they don't encompass all that a modern woman is. Moving from one stage to another marks a significant and irreversible natural shift in our bodies and our female being.

Now you might be thinking, This all sounds like the old maxim, "Biology is destiny," and who wants to be defined by that anymore? Well, yes, it does sound that way - unless you also consider these three stages as spiritual shifts in our lives.

What might the spiritual nature of each phase of the Goddess have been like?

We can imagine something of this from looking at Minoan civilization, dating from about 3,000 to 1400 B.C. The Minoans lived on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. Abundant archaeological evidence exists for this society's reverence of a Goddess. Murals found at Knossos, a town in Crete, show plant life in exuberant growth around the central image of a female deity. Animals and humans are depicted as part of this abundance. These paintings reveal reverence for the generative powers of Earth.

What do you think a society with reverence of the Divine Feminine might have looked like?

Let's imagine what a Minoan woman might say about the Maiden phase of the Divine Feminine. Let's call her Minah.

"Our young girls hold the potential for our society's future. They come from the spirit world to grace our society with their potential, talent, and skills, which blossom with our teachings.

"Our girls are like earth's spring season, the handiwork of the Goddess. She graciously gives us our maidens for the good of our society, just as She gives us seeds to germinate and flower.

"We have a celebration of our maidens at the full moon just before spring. Everyone comes to our pole festival. The girls do a circle dance around the pole and interweave ribbon streamers hanging from the pole.

"All come to dance, feast and watch the bull game. For this occasion our best girl athletes perform feats on a bull's back. Our bulls are trained to work with our athletes. The bull is a sign of the masculine principle. The cooperation of girl athlete and bull shows union of the creative powers of female and male. For we see that all life is created through the union of male and female every spring season.

"Our daughters carry the potential of the mysterious power of creation. We see the female as the active creative principle which we call Goddess. Our maidens are therefore She whom we adore. Our girls carry the lineage of our society, from mother to daughter.

"Our girls are well-educated. We expect them to contribute their gifts and learning to our culture. They learn the lore of the natural world, rhetoric, music, dance, writing, athletics.

"They learn to delight in the body, and from a very early age they eagerly await their coming sexuality. But we don't regard menarche as the first time a girl becomes important in her own right as a woman. We celebrate our daughters' seed nature, long before their menarche, just as we thank and celebrate the Earth Mother for the seed power she gives us to reproduce life.

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