From an address on the future of Goddess Spirituality in Australia given by Shekhinah Morgan at the opening of the 'Goddess In Australia' Conference 2006*– ‘Women Remembering'
The Cyclical Nature of Life
Because I’m a woman and my body has taught me this, I take the view that life on this planet moves in cycles. There are Lunar cycles, Solar cycles and cycles that take thousands of years. We have our own personal development cycles and we are also always involved with the collective cycle.In modern Western culture, I believe, we are at a stage in the present cycle where weare once again ushering in the Sacred Feminine. In a culture where spirituality (if it’s considered at all) is still only equated with masculine values, we are being asked to be the birth canal for Women’s Spirituality in this country.
To me, spirituality is about wholeness/holiness/alignment in the emotional, intellectual, psychic and physical self. And Women’s Spirituality is that which comes of being within the body of a woman. It values life, creativity, empathy, receptivity, diversity and the natural cycles that ensure constant change. It values the ordinary daily rhythms of living. Above all, as with the nature of a woman’s body, the most valued and important focal point, the source of all power and life, is hidden deep within. For this very reason Women’s Spirituality brings a totally different perspective from that of all the mainstream spiritualities. As women, we need to reclaim what has always been our birthright - our own spirituality. As we reclaim this we can envision a world where we bring a way of being that redresses the balance in a very out of balance world.
Ushering in the Sacred Feminine
So what lies ahead of us is this task of ushering in the Sacred Feminine. In order to do this, we must learn to recognise what it is we are trying to midwife. I believe that each one of us potentially carries Her very presence. We may be Her temples. We may be Her places of residence and sacred practice. We carry Her diversity, Her compassion, Her ferocity, Her power. We bring the Sacred Feminine to Earth through embodying Her. There is, however, much reclamation to be done. Many of us have long ago learned to disassociate from at least some of our female bodily functions in order to survive. A simple example of this is the way we will take a pill to get us through the day when we’re bleeding rather than demanding the day or days to ourselves. Or the way we cancel our creative lives because we believe the needs of those around us are greater than our own. We may also guard our emotional responses for fear of derision. For example, any emotional response we may have is often derided by blaming PMT, as if PMT makes us uncontrollable. This undermines passionate expression, which in fact may have nothing to do with PMT.
Our wild, instinctual natures often find no safe place to be. Can we feel safe to walk a deserted beach or a quiet bush track? Can we feel safe to howl at the Full Moon? Collectively we, as women, have through the women’s movement developed to the stage where we are demanding our independence, freedom and power; but often these things have been claimed at great cost to the intrinsic Feminine nature. We have sought equality in a world which does not reflect our values. A world where there is no respect for the Feminine.
Many years ago I worked for the ABC in the Sound Library for FM radio. One of our tasks was to locate all the music that had been programmed for the day and collect it together and take it to the studio. I shared this task with a woman colleague. In the afternoon when we got together to take the music to the studio we used to laugh a lot. I guess it was our way of letting off steam as it was a pretty dreary work environment. We always had a great time. However, as a result of us trying to make the work fun, we were patronised and our intelligence and the quality of our work was regarded with suspicion.
What we need is our freedom, our independence and our power, without compromising our own values. Our need for freedom is the need to express our woman selves. Our need for independence is our need to be virginal, one-in-herself. Our need for power is the need for personal power, not power over. To usher Her in we have first of all to reclaim our selves in OUR own image, not that of a male god. We need to address the healing of the physical body and of the emotional and psychic wounding that we have endured on our respective and our collective journeys to the underworld. We have all journeyed there as did our sister Inanna before us all those aeons ago. Our task is to reclaim the powers invested in us by our bodies through menstruation, creation and menopause.
Reclaiming our powers
We must reclaim the immense power of menstruation. This is the very act of the body that teaches us the cycles of nature. One of the great regrets of my life is that I never got to draw on the gifts and powers that that were inherent in my menses. It was not until late in my menstrual years that I came to appreciate what these events brought to me. Now we have wonderful work, such as that of Alexandra Pope, to guide us through and teach us to find the gifts and the empowerment in these experiences. In Bellingen, on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia, where I live, we now have older women ushering the young newly bleeding women through rites of passage to take up their precious womanhood.
We must reclaim the immense power of creation/creativity. There was no celebration for me when I gave birth. I was ostracised for being pregnant. I was hospitalised as if I was ill. My daughter was delivered into a clinical environment. There were no Mothers to intercede for me, to soothe and encourage me - not even my own mother who was ashamed of me for giving birth. Thus, rather than celebrating the passage of birth giving, I knew it to be painful and dis-empowering. It is through my journey with the Moon Diary that I have come to understand and value the birth process which I feel I go through each year, as I write and prepare each new Diary, and in which I am supported in by so many around me. Most recently also, my daughter has given birth to her daughter at home, supported by two gifted midwives and surrounded by a circle of women that I could only have dreamed of. This has been the most treasured healing experience for me to be part of and to witness. As we all know there are wonderful midwives out there working to change these situations. However, the opposite is also true because now many women are being encouraged to make choices to give away their birth experiences by having their babies induced or delivered by caesarean sections that are often totally unnecessary. The creative life, be it that of the Mother or the Artist, is fraught with lack of support from all sides.
We must reclaim the immense power of Menopause. Finally I have been able to move through an incredible passage of womanhood with support and the knowledge that the journey of my body was bringing me depth and wisdom. Of course, it is important to have aids on the journey. I found that acupuncture helped me to get through the most difficult times in Menopause, without lessening the rich experience. My acupuncturist was a woman who had almost completed Menopause and she was an inspiration to me. In all these ways we must plumb the depths of our womanhood. We post-menopausal women must become the Wise Ones that have for so long been missing in our culture. We must become the guardians at the gates of the Mysteries of the Sacred Feminine. We must guard our learning and pass it on to future generations of women in a quiet, ordinary and steady way.
Reclaiming our sacred places
At this point in the cycle, the great round, we women must take a journey back to the centre of the Labyrinth. We must have sacred places to go where no man dare tread. In these sacred places, our young women can safely express their sensuality in ways in which it is affirmed as a blessing and a delight, such as belly dance. In these sacred places women support each other to give birth, to nourish, to cherish and bring to fruition their children and their creative ideas and lives. In these sacred places women can experience the wisdom getting of menopause; attend to their bodily learning and their burgeoning inner lives. In these places we are remembering, reclaiming and recreating women’s culture - the culture of women.
Let us explore the many faces of the Divine Feminine. Not just those of the Mother and the Whore to which we have been culturally limited. We need to express Hathor, to adorn ourselves, to dance; Cybele, to express ourselves rhythmically; Freya, to be in our pleasure for our own sakes; Kali, to express our anger and outrage and not be afraid to cut out the dross; Diana, to be wild, unruly, and to take our places in the natural world; Lilith, to express our raw sexuality, to name just a few.
Like Hestia, the still point, we also need to take time for solitude. All this away from the eyes, influence and propriety of men and the current dominant paradigm.
The value of telling our stories
On a daily basis we are bombarded with macho images and stories of war, violence, heroes and experts, greed and the destruction of the environment for short term material gain. There are other stories out there. And we do tell them. We tell the stories of our latest creative project, of the beautiful tree in the garden which has just come into full bloom, of the bird which has built its nest in a tree just outside the window. We tell stories about how we support other members of our community when they need it. We tell stories of how we help to keep the river clean and flowing - of our work. We tell stories about our own inner journeys. These are the real stories of daily life. This is where we need to place our attention. Valuing and telling these stories is a simple and powerful way to bring Her to the fore.
Embodying Her in all that we do
We are entering a point in the cycle where the face of the Feminine is more and more in the public eye. She is emerging. We have recently seen young women in parliament with their babies in tow. When I read the weekend Sydney Morning Herald I notice that there are more items by and about women and from women’s cultural point of view than ever before. All this is encouraging, but we need to ensure that this face is strongly supported by Feminine spiritual values and practices. This is how we will bring more balance to our world. What I see ahead is we women getting to know ourselves: remembering, reclaiming and recreating our culture and our spirituality to a point where we so embody it that every moment and every act becomes sacred practice and that wherever we go the Sacred Feminine is seen and celebrated in Her full power and beauty.
Website for the Australian Goddess Conference 2006:
www.goddessassociation.com.au/goddess/australian-goddess-conference-2006-2.html (link no longer available Nov 15)