Honoring the Goddess

UUFP member Allison Black offered the following homily as part of recent Sunday services on the subject of “Kinship with the Earth”.

Goddess Circle is a discussion group that is open to everyone who wishes to attend.  Although we generally have a presentation each month on a different goddess, we are currently discussing rock paintings and carvings in different religions around the world.

Cover of Marija Gambutas' book, "The Language of the Goddess"Archaeologist Marija Gimbutas wrote in her book, The Language of the Goddess,

The Goddess gradually retreated into the depths of forests or onto mountaintops, where she remains to this day in beliefs and fairy stories.  Human alienation from the vital roots of earthly life ensued, the results of which are clear in our contemporary society.  But the cycles never stop turning, and now we find the Goddess reemerging from the forests and mountains, bringing us hope for the future, returning us to our most ancient human roots.

Gimbutas connects the withdrawal of the Goddess with “human alienation from the vital roots of earthly life.”  According to Gimbutas, the Goddess’ withdrawal came with the rise of monotheistic religions that imagined a masculine deity as the only possible or acceptable deity.

When we see God as exclusively male, it’s very easy to value only those traits and habits associated with masculinity: aggression, dominance, stoicism and so forth.  Not only does this lead to the devaluation and dehumanization of women and other non-masculine people, it also encourages us to disregard the needs of the natural environment around us.  The trees do not take up weapons to force their will upon us, and the oceans cannot advocate for themselves in our boardrooms.

Instead, Mother Nature’s reaction to our environmental banditry plays out in slow cycles that viciously turn back on each other: deforestation and intensive agriculture cause erosion, which in turn leads to loss of agricultural productivity, ecological collapse and, eventually, desertification.  Climate change increases the incidence and severity of tropical storms, droughts, and flooding, all of which push climate refugees from their environmentally precarious homes to heavily populated areas.  Rising sea levels spur the disappearance of wetlands.  As the wetlands disappear, so do their diverse populations of plant and animal life, as well as the water purification and nutrient cycling that they do.

All this is to say that if Gimbutas is correct, if we are once again beginning to recognize, respect and honor the Goddess, I welcome her return.  Although I don’t believe in a literal Goddess who directly affects the physical world and responds to petitions, I do believe in the importance of honoring traits and tasks that are usually associated with the Goddess: compassion, gentleness, caring, nurturing, feeding the people, childbirth, child raising and education.

When I say “honor” I mean more than lip service.  I mean fair and equitable wages, hours, and conditions for the people who perform these tasks and keep our society running by doing so.  I think that when we truly begin to value women, we will be forced to slow down our pace of life to allow for better self-care, better nurturing of our families, and, not coincidentally, better attention to and enjoyment of the environment around us.  When we are more in tune with the cycles of nature, we will see ourselves in the migrations of the butterflies and the salmon, the new green leaves of spring, and the ebb and flow of the tides.

As we see the Goddess “reemerging from the forests and mountains, bringing us hope for the future,” then we will be moved to act to preserve our treasures, which were given to us free of charge but will cost us dearly upon their departure.

Goddess Circle meets in the office building for a potluck lunch and discussion after services on the first Sunday of every month.  For more information, contact: goddesscircle@uufp.org

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About acmillard

Andrew serves as minister to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, Virginia.
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One Response to Honoring the Goddess

  1. Lehni says:

    Thank you posting this. I enjoyed it in service and it was good to revisit it.

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