Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Goddess of Light

I remember when I first learned that Eastern spirituality regards sex as sacred. It shocked me. I think it was Carl Jung who first informed me, and then I saw photos of figures in Eastern temples illustrating the fact. In my childhood prudery ruled, enforced by relatives who lived close to our home on the farm. They attended Mass every morning and this clinched a tight relationship between religion and excessive modesty.

Goddess religions resembled Eastern religions in their attitude toward sex, as this guest post shows. Our society’s pornographic treatment of sex desecrates the body and cheapens sex; it in no way resembles the respectful celebration of sex in pre-Christian religions.

[Excerpts from Goddess Calling:  Inspirational Messages and Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy by Rev. Karen Tate]
Welcome friends! If you are familiar with Goddess or earth-based spirituality, you are familiar with the meaning of Winter Solstice and the returning of the light. Our northern European ancestors called
the holiday of Winter Solstice, “Mother’s Night,” when female ancestors and Goddess were celebrated and their guidance sought by people.

It is the time to celebrate Yuletide Goddesses as well as Mithras and Jesus.
The returning of the light from Winter Solstice forward is not just about whether we see more darkness or light in the sky. Light symbolizes the potential for life and new beginnings. Let me share a story with a new perspective on the season—a myth about the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, a Shinto Goddess whose sacred sites are on an island of Japan.

Her story shares similarities with the Greek Goddess, Demeter, who in her grief over losing her daughter caused the earth to be barren. In her grief, Amaterasu, like Demeter, withdrew from the world, causing the land to become barren and bleak. In sorrow Amaterasu secluded herself in a cave. No amount of coaxing could get Amaterasu to come out and restore fertility and vegetation to the land.

Finally she was coaxed out of hiding and despair by Uzume. Amaterasu peeked out from the cave out of curiosity, aroused by laughter and clapping inspired by Uzume’s erotic dance. Uzume’s dance was the catalyst jump-starting Amaterasu to once again spark new life.

Think about the last time you really had a belly-laugh. Did you not feel alive and vital? Seeing the dance brought Amaterasu such joy that life was rekindled. Vegetation sprang forth once more and humanity could once again eat and sustain itself. People and creatures would live and not starve.

When Amaterasu peeked from the cave to look at Uzume dance, she caught sight of her own image in a bronze mirror. As she became dazzled by her own radiance, light and fertility were restored to the world. This myth reflects the regenerative power of the female, inspiring awe across cultures, serving as a catalyst for creation, change, healing or protection.

The dance of Uzume was not meant to be lewd. It was meant to be sacred. It was from a time when procreation and sexual union were still considered sacred, and sex had not yet become something shameful or taboo. A woman’s body held the mysteries of life and death. Life springs forth from women’s bodies and women bleed without dying. This is very powerful “magic” or sacred power. Women, as life givers, were associated with Goddess herself, the Creator of the world and everything in it.

We come back to this season of the returning of the light. There is no life without light. As days build in length and nights shorten until the Summer Solstice in June, we too are coming out of darkness, building momentum and energy, gathering light within ourselves to manifest our desires in the world.
If we are in sync with the cosmic forces, this is the time for our own awakening and transformation, our evolution as spiritual beings. 


December 12
I tried to publish more comments than the ones appearing below, but somehow technology refused to cooperate. I wish I could remember what the other comments said so that I could reply.  Please try sending a comment again if you don't see yours.
Thank you.

I do remember that more than one comment assumed that I'm picking sides and choosing any spiritual frame over others.  This is precisely what I want to avoid.  I am a Catholic Christian but affirm other ways of envisioning the Invisible Realm.



November 24, 2014, Our Blessings

Guest post by Rev. Karen Tate, Goddess Temple of OC, November 23, 2014.

                      Karen and husband Roy

I know sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but we are so lucky. We have so many blessings, and none of them have to do with money, though our culture would have us believe it is one of the things that count most. But truly, does having wealth bring us love?  No, certainly not. 

Does having money help us grow as better human beings? Not always.  Sometimes I think not having wealth is more of a blessing.  Out of necessity, we have to learn to connect and interact with each other because we depend on each other so much more. 

So I’m here today, with Thanksgiving around the corner, to suggest we each peer into the window of our life as if we were standing before a department store window.  Take stock and I bet you’ll marvel at all there is inside the “store that is our life” because I think sometimes there is so much clutter we stop seeing the blessings.  And it looks different for each of us, just as every storefront we walk past in the mall has different and wonderful things within.  Our blessings are diverse. 

But there are blessings we all have in common, too.

We are so blessed to live in a blue state and not be at risk of vaginal probes, personhood amendments, and loss of control over our reproductive health.  We are so blessed to have this brick and mortar temple where we can gather to express the oldest religion on the planet—without fear.  We are so lucky to have a brave, dedicated and talented community, like so many of you here, including Ava and the women and men who keep this temple thriving.

We are so lucky to have the Internet and clean water and advanced medicine.  It’s easy to forget everyone doesn’t have that.   We are blessed that we aren’t forced to kill our girl children at birth because we can’t afford their dowry later in life.  We are blessed because we can vote, although too many of us don’t.  We can disobey male authority without paying a price.  But we forget so many of these things.  We’re human and we take them for granted sometimes.

But as you put your nose on the glass of your own storefront - and I hope you will - to peruse all the goodness inside, I hope you’ll also be courageous enough to lift the lid of your challenges, disappointment and pain, because I’ll bet there are blessings there too.  I know Roy’s heart attack made him start to take his health more seriously.  My mother’s death helped me deepen my ability to forgive.  And sometimes it’s the bullies in life that teach us the most about who we are and what we’re made of.

And don’t overlook the little blessings that make us smile.  See the blessing in the brave little hummingbird at the bird feeder, the beautiful and perfect roses in the garden, or the smell of bacon in the morning.  Myself, I cherish that fleeting moment between being asleep and fully awake, feeling the cool sheets in the dim light of morning.  Maybe your cat is sleeping next to you and you feel the softness of her fur as you hear the alarm go off and there’s beautiful music on the radio.  Don’t overlook either sweet memories or your feisty friends who challenge your thinking and help you grow. 

I know I feel blessed and Roy does too, that so many of you drove all this way so early in the morning to be here today with us.  You too are our blessings and we love you.  Thank you for being in our lives. 

So this week and as often as you can, try to take inventory of your blessings like a good shopkeeper so you know the value of all the assets in the store of your life. Be sure you look in all the nooks and crannies.  We can really find the blessings in the craziest and most unexpected places as I was reminded recently.

You see this “scholar” had blown me off because he saw me as a disillusioned advocate of Gimbutas theories, but we talked, and talked - and to my surprise he’s offered me a private showing of the valuable artifacts within his goddess collection.  Dare I hold out hope that crack in the door will swing wide enough for him to fully embrace Gimbutas herstory?  Who knows.  We shall see. 

So think about that next week when Uncle George, who parrots Fox News, is talking crazy round the Thanksgiving dinner table.  As he goes on and on setting your hair on fire next week, making you choke on the green bean casserole, maybe he’s helping you grow patience and tolerance.  Who knows, you might even find a kernel of truth in all the crazy that can lead you toward bridging the gap.  We can really find blessings in the craziest places sometimes!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

We Are Divine


Poets, sages, and religious leaders discern a deep reality in humanity that escapes many of us.
William Wordsworth writes about it in his poem “Immortality”:
[our] exterior semblance doth belie
[our] soul’s immensity.
Jesus of Nazareth called this inner reality the Reign of God and made it the abiding and overarching theme of his teachings.
The Reign of God is in the midst of you.
Lk 17: 21
Futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard calls it our inner Beloved and Essential Self. At the center of our being rests,
“a magnificent presence
far beyond my current personality or gender.”
She encourages us to,
Experience the Essential Self as a radiant presence,
glowing and emanating light.
Louise Hay describes it thus:
                        In the Infinity of life where I am,
                        all is perfect, whole, and complete.
Wordsworth echoes this theme of the human person’s nobility:
                        Not in entire forgetfulness,
                        And not in utter nakedness,
                        But trailing clouds of glory do we come . . .
And he acknowledges our tendency to be oblivious to it.
                        O joy! that in our embers
                        Is something that doth live,
                        That Nature yet remembers  
                        What was so fugitive!
We can reclaim what was “so fugitive.” This Wayne Dyer encourages to do by trusting our inner Selves and being true to the divine wisdom within.
Ralph Waldo Emerson echoes Dyer’s thought in “Self-Reliance”:
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
Paul, who unintentionally founded the new religion called Christianity, referred to this inner reality recognized by sages when he wrote,
Christ is living in me (Gal 2:20).
Christ is living in you (2 Cor13:5).
Jesus of Nazareth said,
You are the salt of the earth . . .
You are the light of the world.
Mt 5: 13- 14
Let us vibrate to that iron string within and realize we are the salt, we are the light. Let us hearken to the Beloved Self signaling from within.
Amen. Allelujah.